Kenya Airways Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mbuvi Nguze will be leaving the airline early next year.
Announcing the move today, KQ Chairman and former Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph said Mr Mbuvi be exiting KQ effective first quarter of 2017. By that time, Mr Mbuvi will have worked with KQ for over five years and as the Group Managing Director and CEO for two years.
“I felt it was a natural point in the company’s evolution to pass on the baton,” noted Joseph in a statement. “While I regret this decision, I respect his position, Mr Mbuvi will stay on until a successor is found which is expected to take some months. “
Mr Joseph said the hunt for the next CEO will be a thoughtful process led by himself, the KQ board and nominations committee. The process, he hopes will focus on producing the right outcomes to lead KQ into its next chapter.
KQ Chairman said the company hopes to complete the recruitment process within the next three months, adding that they have already started the hunt to identify the right candidate with requisite airline experience.
“During this period, the Board chairman and the group managing director and CEO will work with the rest of the KQ senior leadership team to ensure continuity during the transition. Hence, this should not negatively impact our collaboration with our business partners, financiers and other stakeholders,” he noted. “Although I have to date only worked with him for a short while; it has indeed been my privilege to work with Mbuvi so far.”
Michael Joseph observed that over the years as the group Managing Director and CEO, the board has seen the dedication and selfless approach to work that Mr Mbuvi has had.
He said Mbuvi has led KQ during a challenging period, but brought his unique leadership skills to bear, ensuring that the airline stayed afloat, leading from the front in negotiations with financiers and critical partners, and launching the turnaround which has achieved key milestones.
He said during this period of turbulence, Mbuvi and the team were able to analyse and articulate the challenges facing the airline for various stakeholders to understand and support. “The challenges faced by KQ over the last few years are not unique to it, as aviation is a cyclical business. What is critical is that these challenges have been faced with measured responses that are now clearly bearing fruit,” he noted.
These actions, Michael Joseph said, have included negotiating bridge financing for the business successfully, revisiting the commercial offer of KQ and organisation. Others included, monetising assets to keep the business in operation, fleet rationalisation and improved utilisation, reducing costs and improving productivity.
He said that during Mbuvi’s tenure, operational losses of the business have reduced substantially and KQ more than broke-even at the half year period. Operation Pride will clearly place KQ on a stronger footing and provide a stable base for long term growth. “As we look to the future, the operational turnaround must stay in focus, but so too the financial stability of the business,” he explained.
Michael Joseph said the key outcomes desired during this phase of the turnaround are an improvement in liquidity and the reduction of the overall debt. He observed that Mr Mbuvi is fully committed to the course and will remain focused on delivering this before his departure and in ensuring a successful transition.