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Kenya Airways posted the worst financial result in the corporate history of its home nation this summer, when it announced a full-year loss of 25.7 billion shillings ($254 million). Management at the flag-carrier, which was privatised in 1996 but is still 29.8% owned by the government, now face an uphill struggle in convincing politicians and the public that they deserve another shot at commercial viability.
The sheer scale of the losses – eight times deeper than the previous year – has prompted soul-searching in a country where 46% of the population lives below the poverty line. A Senate Select Committee is now pouring over the disastrous result, with some MPs openly calling for criminal proceedings against airline bosses.
However, while the prima facie evidence points to a series of strategic blunders, parliament's investigation has yet to uphold any of the allegations of corruption that have been bandied around by the press. In truth, Kenya Airways' predicament is far from unique in African aviation, and its commercial fortunes are at least partly influenced by external factors beyond the control of management...