KLM chief executive resigns from Kenya Airways board


KQ managing director Mbuvi Ngunze with board chairman Michael Joseph. PHOTO | FILE

KLM chief executive Peter Elbers has resigned from the board of Kenya Airways, citing increased responsibilities.

He will be replaced by his alternate director, Jos Veenstra, the Dutch carrier’s current vice president for mergers, acquisitions and holdings.

Mr Elbers had held the position for four years.

KLM, which owns slightly more than a quarter of KQ, has a joint venture agreement with the national carrier— generating about $500 million in annual revenues.

“Mr Elbers’ resignation has been necessitated by his heavy responsibilities and additional commitments as President and CEO of KLM,” Michael Joseph, KQ chairman, said in a statement.

“His replacement has been the alternate non-executive director on the Board since May 26, 2005 and is currently a member of the board’s audit and risk management committee.”

Mr Elbers joined the Kenya Airways board on June 13, 2013 and has been a member of the airline’s corporate governance committee. His alternate has, however, been increasingly attending board meetings, necessitating the change at a time when the national carrier is navigating tough financial times.

READ: Kenya Airways chairman says deal with KLM set for renegotiation

Mr Veenstra, who has held his current job for nine years, is a member of KQ’s special committee that is handling its operational restructuring with the help of US consultancy, McKinsey.

This committee is also spearheading the ongoing balance sheet restructuring at KQ as well as capital raising with the support of PJT Partners, a New-York-based advisory firm.

Mr Veenstra is the chairman of Cobalt Ground Solutions, a London-based KLM subsidiary which caters to major carriers including Delta Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Korean Air and Kenya Airways from Heathrow Airport.

The boardroom swap comes at a time when KQ is looking to renegotiate its 16-year-old joint venture agreement with KLM arguing that the pact is disproportionately in favour of its partner.