NAIROBI, Kenya, May 19 – Industrialist Dr Chris Kirubi has called on the government to treat the challenges facing Kenya Airways (KQ) as an urgent matter to salvage it.
Kirubi says the immediate matter to deal with at the airline is completely getting it out of debt by pumping in more funds.
He says the government is the only saviour, adding that despite previous financing to the airline, there is need for the State to help clear all the debts and not allow the airline continue borrowing more for survival.
“I am calling on the government to get off their offices and think clearly; how do we support this airline? Rwanda is coming on board with their government committed to support them. On the other side we have Ethiopian airline, supported heavily by their government, “he said in an interview with Capital FM Business on the sidelines of the Annual Leadership Summit, by the Kenya Institute of Management.
In September last year, KQ which has not made profit in three years got Sh4.2billion financing support from government, which holds a 29.8 percent stake.
However according to economic analysts on the current situation, the airlines needs at least Sh50 to Sh60 billion bailout but a precise figure will depend on a turnaround plan which is being prepared by McKinsey and Seabury consultants.
“They already have billions of debt. How are they going to get out of it? This is the debate we should be having and as far as I am concerned, government is responsible for answering to the poor small shareholders who have put their money and trust that this business can work,” Kirubi noted.
But even as Kirubi – who is a shareholder in KQ calls for more help for the airline – he says an overhaul of the management team as well as the operation model will be inevitable going forward.
He says KQ’s management cannot continue doing things the same way and expect positive change.
“We even need to review who are the people sitting in that board. What is their exact contribution to reviving the airline? I think it’s a matter of conscience where people need to come clean and say ‘ I am a baggage in this journey and I am adding no value.’ So if you have a chairman who has no direction he needs to step aside. If you have a board member who has no interest in the airlines except free tickets he also needs to step aside,” Kirubi said.
He says KQ has a big chance to actually become the pride of Africa it was, if only the management changes as soon as possible.