Defying His Wife, Michael Joseph Vows to Fix KQ

He believes KQ can return to profitability by 2025

Despite his wife repeatedly requesting him to walk away from Kenya Airways, Michael Joseph has no plans to leave the loss-making national carrier anytime soon.

According to Joseph, his partner is worried that the failures of KQ, currently surviving on multi-billion shilling taxpayer bailouts, will tarnish his brand. Joseph’s global profile is immense thanks to his time as Founder CEO of Safaricom – the region’s most profitable company.

At Safaricom, he famously spearheaded growth of the customer base from under 18,000 in 2000 to 17 million at the time of his retirement in 2010. It was with Joseph in charge that Safaricom also launched M-Pesa, the mobile money platform that would change Kenya’s economy and inspire fintech innovation worldwide.

He took on the role of Board Chairman at KQ in 2016, soon after the company posted some of its worst ever results. KQ last made a profit in 2013.

There, he faces arguably the biggest challenge of his career. The company most recently announced a Ksh15.8 billion net loss for the year ended December 2021, a 56.58% slide from the Ksh32.6 billion net loss it reported the previous year.

“It’s a tough business. My wife tells me all the time, just give up.”

“The risk in me being chairman of KQ is that Kenyans expect that I, Michael Joseph, can save and reproduce the financial success at Safaricom,” he told Sunday Standard.

READ>>Kenya Airways Losses Slide 56% to Hit Ksh16 Billion

Joseph, however, is intent on staying put. He believes KQ can return to profitability by 2025.

“I have a legacy to live up to. Looking at the situation at KQ and how hard it was, it would have been very easy for me to walk away and say ‘I don’t want my legacy destroyed by what I can or can’t do at KQ'” the 75-year old asserted.

The airline is currently restructuring, cost-cutting and diversifying as it looks to recover from the impact of Covid-19, which hit what was an already struggling national carrier hard.

He is also leading the push to form a Pan-African airline group. Joseph believes consolidation is the only way KQ can compete against the giants of global aviation.

The talks have so far seen a deal struck with South African Airways. Joseph also defended the bailout packages KQ continues to receive, highlighting the firm’s unique position.

“All these people talking about wasting taxpayers’ money on KQ either don’t understand that this is a strategic asset of the country or understand but say so because it is politically a good thing to say,” he argued.

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MARTIN SIELE
MARTIN SIELEhttps://loud.co.ke/
Martin K.N Siele is the Content Lead at Business Today. He is also a Quartz contributor and a 2021 Baraza Media Lab-Fringe Graph Data Storytelling Fellow. Passionate about digital media, sports and entertainment, Siele also founded Loud.co.ke

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Joseph had better quit KQ ….he is not fooling any one that after such a disastrous failure at the top he is going to turn around KQ. Safaricom was & is a different kettle of fish virtually operating a BUSINESS monopoly sanctioned & favoured by the reigning CEO Kenya & hence it’s massive market share & profitability. It was & is not a national enterprise in a political sewer of vested interests like KQ ….which like many if not all global national government airlines makes no profit but merely a status symbol of national pride. Rich countries can afford this expensive pride & huge losses but KENYA must abandon such wanton wastage of its very limited resources that are desperately needed elsewhere for development.

  2. I completely agree with MJ. KQ will be one of the most profitable Airlines in Africa pretty soon. Just give it 5 years.

  3. Joseph is talking politics instead of business! KQ is long past it’s shelf life, the government should let go! National pride while poor kenyans are dying of hunger the government is pumping billions into bottomless pit! Nonsense.🔥

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