EDITORIAL: Bad publicity hurting KQ

Former KQ finance director Alex Mbugua. FILE PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG
Former KQ finance director Alex Mbugua. FILE PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG 

National carrier Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ (KQ) has this week been involved in two separate incidents both locally and internationally that have the potential to impact its reputation.

The good came from the free marketing that the airline got on Wednesday after thousands of Internet users in the UK tracked one of its flights for hours in a bid to monitor the disgraced International Development secretary Priti Patel’s journey back home.

Ms Patel had been recalled home after it emerged that she had had unauthorised contacts with Israelis.

The bad was in KQ’s ugly fight with its former Finance director Alex Mbugua who had been reinstated to his former job after the court found that he had been wrongfully dismissed two years ago.

This latter incident is of most concern because it threatens to erode the efforts being made to pull the ailing airline from the loss-making territory it currently stands.

As a listed public company, it is in KQ’s interest to instill confidence in investors and, especially taxpayers who have injected billions of shillings into the company in support of the turnaround effort.

The drama around Mr Mbugua, who on Tuesday was awarded a whopping Sh144 million compensation for unlawful sacking, not only dents the carrier’s image but also brings into question its adherence to the rule of law.

Even though the airline may have had genuine reasons for its action, it was found to have failed to follow the laid down procedures of terminating an employment contract. This is the kind of public spat it must avoid at all costs.