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Shipping & Logistics

Scorecard for Mikosz, Andersen as tenures at Kenya Airways, KAA end

Sebastian Mikosz
Outgoing Kenya Airways CEO Sebastian Mikosz. He will be leaving the airline at the end of December. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

As two expatriates at the helm of key aviation institutions in the country leave office, the focus now shifts to assessment of their performance.

On Monday, Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ board announced Allan Kilavuka as the acting chief executive officer effective January as Sebastian Mikosz is set to leave ahead of the expiry of his contract.

Kenya Airports Authority’s Johnny Andersen left in September ahead of his term that was to end in November.

The KQ expat opted out of the top job citing personal reasons back home.

In 2017, when he was appointed to head the ailing national carrier, it was thought to be the beginning of good fortunes for Kenya Airways. But as his tenure comes to an end, the Polish who has been credited with having a successful history of turning round airlines in Europe, appears to have thrown in the towel.

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Given this stellar track record, Kenya banked on Mr Mikosz to spearhead revival of the national carrier and improve its balance sheet.

“Mr Mikosz was brought in as a turnaround manager to restructure the airline and reduce cost. As much as there have been growth in revenue, the overhead cost have been going up as well,” said economist Toni Watima.

The expat was meant to cut the operation costs of the airline and spur it to profitability after years of losses, which analysts argue were partly caused by huge salaries drawn by the expatriates.

However, Mr Mikosz leaves the company at the end of this month without having achieved the purpose for which he was hired if the airline numbers are anything to go by.

The troubled carrier’s half-year loss more than doubled to Sh8.56 billion, sinking shareholders into a deeper negative equity position of Sh16.18 billion. This was Mikosz’s last half year results announced in August.

The airline attributed the 112 percent widening of loss to increased operating costs in the wake of its expansion into new routes and the return of two Boeing 787 planes that had been sub-leased to Oman Air.

In the results for 2018, the airline said the cost of operation went up to Sh121 billion from Sh116 billion in 2016. For the nine months result for 2017, the cost of operation was Sh87 billion.

Mr Andersen, who opted not to renew his term at the helm of KAA, was brought in to oversee the expansion of the facility and turn it into a major regional hub.

However, during his tenure, two major developments have been put on hold. The very year when he assumed office in 2016, the Sh56 billion Green Field Terminal was cancelled.

A major activity that started right during his tenure was the construction of the second runway. This never came to pass.

In an interview with Shipping& Logistics in 2017, Mr Andersen admitted that it was worrying for a big airport like the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to have a single runway.

“It is true we need to expand this facility and I am happy that plans are already under way to call for tenders, this or next month, for the construction of the second landing path,” he said then.

“We are planning to start the works before the end of 2017. The second runway will increase the movement of aircraft from 25 to 45 per hour and do away with the delays occasioned by a single runway.”

Mr Andersen was publicised as having wide knowledge and experience in aviation and specifically in running airport hubs across the world with then KAA chairman Julius Karangi describing him as “a good fit for KAA.”

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