Air Transport World

Lean, keen Kenya Airways.

Lean, keen Kenya Airways Nairobi--The fact that Kenya Airways is functioning more efficiently and is in better financial shape than ever does not mean that the airline is a model of efficiency nor that it has ended its consistent record of losses. But since Joseph Nyagah became managing director in 1987, the carrier has undergone a transformation that culminated in the dismissal of 1,000 of its Kenya-based work force of 3,500.

A "leaner and keener" Kenya Airways emerged with a nucleus of new executives brought in from other parastatal organizations and from the private sector. Nyagah attributes most of the airline's past troubles to shortage of Kenyan management personnel in Kenya Airways' predecessor, East African Airways, which was owned by the governments of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zanzibar. The collapse of EAA, which had its head office and operating base in Nairobi but employed Kenyans mostly in nonmanagement categories--clerk, porter and cleaner--while Tanzanians and Ugandans held management posts, resulted in creation of Kenya Airways by the government in early 1977.

Following the break-up of the multinational airline, the Tanzanians and Ugandans returned to their countries to set up and run Air Tanzania and Uganda Airlines, leaving the new Kenya Airways with little in the way of management know-how.

Nyagah believes that lack of management expertise was at least partly to blame for the company's financial problems--a cumulative loss of $40.8 million as of June 30 1989, the latest date for which audited accounts are available. However, the worst seems to be over--estimates for 1989 show an operating result of some $13.5 million although interest and loan payments brought the net to a loss of about $12. …

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