Kenya Airways asks government to protect it from growing competition

Kenya’s national carrier has commenced discussions with the Government, seeking protection from foreign competitors.

Kenya’s National carrier Kenya Airways has commenced discussions with the Government, seeking protection from foreign competitors, Chairman Michael Joseph said on Thursday.

The airline, part-owned by the state and Air France-KLM, is restructuring its finances in a bid to steer it back to profitability after years of heavy losses.

The losses, caused by a slump in tourism due to frequent attacks in Kenya by Al Shabaab militants, came at a time when the airline was taking on debt to buy new planes and as Gulf-based rivals ratcheted up competition.

"We started out these negotiations both with KAA (Kenya Airports Authority) and ourselves and the government to see how we can better protect us," Kenya Airways Chairman Michael Joseph told reporters.

"We don't want to close our airspace," he added while at the same time urging the government to introduce “more aggressive strategies” to avoid ‘destroying’ the airline. He stated that some foreign competitors enjoy massive state support including subsidies without mentioning names.

The announcement comes in the wake of a looming shake-up in the airline’s senior management with CEO Sebastian Mikosz hiring five Polish executives as part of a restructuring plan aimed at returning KQ back to profitability.

In an email to staff, Mr Mikosz announced that the five expatriates were hired from his former employer, LOT Polish Airlines, effective September 1.

The decision has caused tension among workers who see it as a move aimed at ousting individuals hired under the leadership of former CEOs Titus Naikuni and Mbuvi Ngunze under whose watch the airline nosedived to near bankruptcy.

Mikosz however says the five are experts in airline management adding that their experience is necessary for Kenya Airways in the short term.

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