By Dikembe Disembe
After reading this; you can as well “accept” to pack your travel backpack or suitcase and “move on” to the Dutch national carrier KLM; or Delta Airlines; Emirates or Etihad.
I have been a fan of Kenya Airways; our national carrier ever since I realised I would fly in the future. Â In East Africa, it is still undoubtedly the largest airline and Africa’s only member of the giant Skyteam. The Airline has had its best of times, and like many great institutions in this country, it has also been part of our continued experiment with politics of ethnicity, favouritism, nepotism and elitism; sadly, all these vices is slowly killing one of Kenya’s success stories.
This year, the airline revealed shocking losses adding to billions. In the last few days, reports are awash in the mainstream media of a KQ plane grounded in Athens for days; and today, passengers who were abode that plane are telling of harrowing tales of egregious neglect the airline treated them to, with a Burundian woman eventually missing the burial of her mother and many passengers who had means returning back to Amsterdam, summarily cancelling their schedules and businesses.
The aviation industry in Kenya, just like the political sector currently being controlled by two politicians known in international circles as ‘suspects of heinous crimes imaginable under the sun’, depends on image-what in corporate parlance is known as ‘brand’. That KQ as a trusted brand is fast losing its reputation is beyond doubt; that respected managers like Dr Titus Naikuni is watching this institution go down is, unfortunately, a ‘normal occurrence’ in the current Kenya we live in.
All around us; we are seeing respectable people in the society running down institutions and getting even higher rewards for their work. We’ve seen academicians run down universities, decorated soldiers run down the police force, respected lawyers and judges make a mockery of the rule of law but because all these fits into our culture of robotic acceptance and ethnic pilgrim, we have become cozy with these things. They do not matter anymore.
Even more revolting is that you do not see heads rolling. You do not see deliberate changes in the management of the Kenyan corporate affairs. In Egypt recently, just before the ousting of President Morsi, something happened at Luxor State which shows how determined certain systems are when it comes to service delivery. Morsi had appointed as governor of the tourist high end city of Luxor a pro-brotherhood figure whose militia members had bombed some tourist hotel in the city sometime in the 70’s. Seeing the damage that the move would cause to the tourism industry, the tourism minister, Hisham Zazou, promptly resigned, forcing President Morsi to rescind his decision and remove the governor after which the respected minister returned to his work-station.
By visitor arrivals, even after the spring, Egypt is one of the most visited countries in Africa, recording over 8 million guests annually. Kenya, under an ambitious jubilee manifesto, only hopes to attract some 3 million.
What this means is that there has to be a deliberate attempt to market Kenya as a tourist and investor destination point. To allow the kind of incompetence going on at KQ is to kill this noble goal, and reduce Kenya Airways to the aviation cesspit where other carriers like Uganda Airways or Tanzania’s Precision Air belong.Economic growth of this country cannot be won through political posturing which leads to institutional mismanagement. Imagine if that ill-fated flight was carrying some potential investor scheduled for a meeting in Nairobi? Three days being holed in an hotel with no connecting flights! What happened to the many codeshare arrangements KQ has with other airlines?
Kenya Airways, from well-placed insiders, suffers from massive political interferences. It is politics that has created a kind of malignant fiefdom, thus establishing an horrid status quo so bereft of ideas to turn around the airline and put it on a pedestal where its pride does not produce a kind of pungent stench is it criss-crosses Africa and the World. It beats logic why Dr. Naikuni, after a decade, still manages the airline. Was it King Osric, in the film ‘Conan the Barbarian’, who remarked: “There comes a time, thief, when the jewels cease to sparkle, when the gold loses its luster, when the throne room becomes a prison, and all that is left is a father’s love for his child”? Isn’t time Naikuni shows some love?
When Deputy President William Ruto hired a private jet, he must have known what a pain in an executive ass Kenya Airways can be. To avoid all the hassle, he hired a bombardier Challenger 850, a luxurious but trustworthy jet worthy of his status, and trustworthy of the business he needed to undertake in Africa of the Western shores. I better lament my deputy president is late than sorry.
When all is said, the buck will really stop with the shareholders and the majority stake is held by GoK so the presidency; salvaging KQ is a sacred duty, action from President Kenyatta is long overdue!https://www.kenya-today.com/opinion/kenya-airways-ethnic-dumping-incompetency-titus-naikuni