Kenya Airways (KQ) has announced the appointment of Allan Kilavuka as its acting chief executive officer, replacing Polish national Sebastian Mikosz who opted out of the top job before the expiry of his contract.
Mr Kilavuka is the current CEO of the airline's low cost subsidiary Jambojet.
The airline's board in a statement sent Monday indicated his appointment is effective January 1, 2020, and that he will serve in the role until a substantive CEO for Kenya Airways has been recruited and appointed.
"Allan will also continue his role as Chief Executive Officer of Jambojet during the interim period of recruitment," said the statement signed by Company Secretary Catherine Musakali.
"The Board wishes to emphasise that the recruitment process for a substantive Chief Executive Officer with the necessary experience and knowledge was initiated upon the announcement of Sebastian Mikosz’s decision to leave the airline at the end of 2019. The process is still actively on going and the Board will inform all our stakeholders once a suitable candidate has been identified."
Mr Mikosz earlier this year in a shock announcement said he will quit from the helm of the airline in December, coming before his term expires in June next year.
In a memo to KQ staff, he cited “personal reasons” as the reason for throwing in the towel.
“It is my personal decision and I have obviously discussed it with the Board as well as with my family. I believe that this is the ideal timing to begin a transition process to find someone who will continue with the turnaround initiatives that we began 3 years ago,” he said in the memo.
Mr Mikosz, who helped turn around flag carrier LOT Polish Airlines as its CEO, was hired in June 2017 to also turn around the struggling KQ.
His strategy included fleet expansion, adding of new routes and collaboration with African airlines that were seen as a threat to KQ’s regional market share.
The airline is in the process of nationalisation, coming after Parliament in July voted to nationalise NSE-listed company Airways to save it from mounting debts.
The government has now set out on a nationalisation plan, with Treasury looking to buy out KQ's minority shareholders and converting shares held by commercial banks into Treasury bonds.
The loss-making carrier is 48.9 percent government-owned, 38.1 percent by banks, 7.8 percent by Air France-KLM, 2.4 percent by Kenya Airways employees and 2.8 percent by small investors.
KQ chairman Michael Joseph recently called for professionalisation of the airline’s board to avoid picking politically-connected directors so as to give the troubled company a chance of survival after nationalisation.