New Chairman at KQ

Ahead of the release of their half-year results, Kenya Airways has announced a board change with former Safaricom CEO, Michael Joseph being elected as the new chairman of the airline. He replaced Dennis Awori who had been on the board and chairman, for just over a year since the 2015 AGM.

Joseph was a surprise addition to the Kenya Airways board at the AGM on which he did not event attend. He got more votes than the government officials, indicating he had the support of the Kenya government, KLM, and also the shareholders in attendance (the IMF seems not to vote).

KQ CEO deck

This is a tough time for the airline on the back of two years of staggering losses. Awori joined the board in the middle of this, and just as the airline embarked on a turnaround plan called Operation Pride.  The results of it  are yet to be fully realized, but already there have been drastic decisions made with the paring down of the airline’s (large idle 777 fleet), sale of the Heathrow slot, securing new finance from the Kenya government and Afrexim bank. Underlying it all is a repudiation of the very ambitious ‘Project Mawingu’ that has a massive investment in the airlines fleet to support a network growth to new destinations.  It anticipated massive growth in numbers through Nairobi but that did not happen as the planners appear not to have anticipated the growing expansion of Gulf carriers into Africa where they are now believed to account for 80% of the traffic.

In adding Michael Joseph it the board hopes he can repeat the success at Safaricom and already the move has been cheered by investors  with the share price rising to its highest point in over a year, since his addition to the board.

chart & data from

Awori has a stellar CV as a director in corporate Kenya where he’s also the chairman of Toyota Kenya and Bank of Africa, and on the board of EA Cables, Vision 2030 and KEPSA –  but he was the wrong man at the wrong time. These are turbulent times at KQ that is undergoing massive internal change that requires effective and reassuring communication to the investors, staff, and the public. Already Joseph appeared at the airline pilots union and appeared to have persuaded them to shelve their potentially-crippling strike plan.