With Nigeria, for the 765th time, flirting with the idea of, and making conceited efforts about owning a national carrier, successful African public owned airlines have become reference points. Ethiopia Airways, South Africa Airways, Rwanda Airways. Why have these African nations, some of them poorer than Nigeria, successful own national carriers and Nigeria can’t float one? Here’s all you need to know about Kenya Airways. Perhaps, it would put Air Nigeria in the right perspective.
1. It wasn’t a British inheritance.
Unlike Nigeria Airway which was a legacy of the colonial lords, the Kenyan Airway came up independently. Before then, the British Overseas Airway Corporation (BOAC) had set up the East African Airway to serve Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. After the countries got their independence between 1961 and 1963, they continued to run the company headquartered in Nairobi.
In 1977, political issues interfered with this corporation and it was dissolved in 1977.
Kenyan Airways, with the slogan “The Pride of Africa” was created to replace the Kenyan arm of East African Airway, with its headquarters in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi.
2. Kenya Airline started with two borrowed aircrafts
While Nigerians wonder why the proposed Nigeria Air has no plane, they can be comforted by the fact that airlines have a history of humility and slow starts. When Kenya Airways began operations on February 4th, 1977 is the day it flew from London to Nairobi for its first service, the company had no aircraft of its own. They had two planes in lease from British Midland Airways (Boeing 707-321).
Today the Kenyan national carrier which employs nearly 4000 people has 40 aircraft in its fleet.
3. Kenya Airways Limited is the first African airline to be privatized
Following the privatization of British Airways in 1987 and its successful run under private management, many countries were sold on this idea. One country which failed in its privatization bid was Nigeria. Kenya, on the other hand, is an example of privatization of a flag bearing airline that was successful. The first such example in not just Africa but the entire black race.
While you are here, see: Mall for Africa Facts
Privatized, the Kenyan Government own 48.9 percent of the airline while the others are shared among the private sector under its public-private partnership. The largest share by the private sector is owned by KQ Lenders Company. This airline is not just locally own, as the Dutch Aviation Company KLM account for seven percent of the company affirming its international outlook. The Kenya Airways stocks are traded on the floor of the Nairobi Stock Exchange, the Uganda Securities Exchange and the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange.
4. Kenya Airways is the only African member of the elite group SkyTeam
The SkyTeam is a group of airlines that cover airlines from Asia, South America, Europe, North America and Africa. Founded in 2000, this air alliance has twenty members controlling more than 3000 aircraft and accounting for 730 million global passengers per annum which makes it the biggest airline group on earth.
Kenya Airways became an associate of this group, headquartered in Haarlemmermeer, the Netherlands, rising to full membership in 2010 joining airlines of note such as Delta Air Lines, China Airlines, Air France, Air Europa, AeroMexico, Vietnam Airlines etc.
5. Kenyan Airways is run by foreigners
In May 2017 after 40 years in business with more than a dozen CEOs, Kenyan Airways crossed the continental shores into Europe for its chief executive officer. Sebastian Mikosz was CEO and President of the national carrier of Poland LOT Polish Airlines and have amassed more than two decades in public and private air service. This appointment was made by the Kenyan company Chairman Michael Joseph, himself an expatriate from South Africa who was famous for managing Safaricom as CEO for ten years.
On arrival, CEO Mikosz appointed five polish nationals into the executive board of the Kenyan airline, a move that discomforted the board and had Chairman Joseph out with words to the effect that everyone’s job is safe. According to the chairman, these expatriates are on a revival mission.
And the CEO is out for business as he took the hard road against 140 engineers and technicians of the airline over what the management tagged an illegal strike. The workers downed tools to force the airline to increase their salary by a whopping 844 percent. The CEO fired them, claiming in a memo to staff that the board won’t be held to ransom. The striking staff vowed to contest this in court.