Mr. Jim Kibati was made Acting Commercial Director on Friday as Mohan Chandra, until the 18th of January the Commercial Director of Kenya Airways, left the Pride of Africa after his contract expired and was not renewed.
Mohan served with Kenya Airways since August 2009 and was well known to this correspondent for his forthcoming responses and open interaction.
Jim Kibati, who at one time served as Kenya Airways’ Country Manager in Uganda and who has since then risen through the ranks, was in more recent times serving in the key position as head of strategic network planning and was by consensus the obvious in-house choice to become Acting Commercial Director. It remains to be seen if he will now put his hat in the ring for a permanent tenure in this top echelon position with Kenya’s national airline or if the airline would chose to recruit from outside instead of promoting from within, which seems for a number of reasons the more obvious choice at this junction.
Times are tough at KQ in financial terms with a major half year loss announced late last year and cost cutting measures held up by confused rulings of Kenya’s Industrial Court which had the entire business community shouting foul, terming it a major assault on doing business in the country.
European core markets for KQ have been soft, and while there was a windfall in traffic from the UK after the late September withdrawal of Virgin from the Kenyan market, this has not completely made up for the weaker than expected performance overall which some estimate may be down by as much as 15 percent. Upcoming elections too have cast clouds over the immediate future load factors on the airline’s international routes and the upsurge in African destinations covered by the Gulf airlines and new big time players like Turkish Airlines has progressively eaten into the potentially rich markets of West and South Africa.
Kenya Airways however enjoys a growing demand for travel to India and the Far East, where direct flights and codeshared operations with among others Korean Air and Vietnam Airlines have enhanced KQ’s footprint in the markets. All the best to Mohan, wherever his ways will take him and congrats and all the best to Jimmy Kibati on his challenging new assignment.