KQ hires former Qatar Airways executive

KQ hires former Qatar Airways executive

Kenya Airways chairman Michael Joseph. PHOTO | FILE 

By MUGAMBI MUTEGI, [email protected]

Kenya Airways has appointed a former KLM executive as its commercial director, filling a critical managerial position that has remained vacant for a year.

Vincent Coste, who was hired on November 1, has worked in various senior roles for the Air France-KLM group for a decade and, prior to that, spent seven years at Air France before the two airlines merged.

His last engagement before joining Kenya Airways was at Qatar Airways where he worked as the carrier’s senior vice president for the Indian sub-continent for two years.

Mr Coste is filling a position left vacant by Gerard Clarke who left the airline in October 2015 and was replaced by KQ’s strategy director Thomas Omondi in an acting capacity.

“Mr Coste has joined KQ as the commercial director in charge of sales, network planning and revenue management functions,” the carrier told its employees in an internal memo.

The new director will also be in charge of ticket pricing, scouting for and entering into partnerships like code-sharing agreements, new product development as well as planning new routes among others.

Mr Coste is joining KQ at a time when its revenues for the half-year to September dipped by 3.5 per cent to Sh54.7 billion mainly due to lower passenger revenues which reduced by Sh1.8 billion to Sh46.6 billion.

The airline, which has sold or leased out several planes, also registered a drop in revenues from freight and mail services as well as from handling services offers competitor airlines.

This drop in revenue was only cushioned by cost-cutting initiatives such as the downsizing of its fleet which reduced the company’s fleet ownership costs by Sh4.6 billion to Sh8.5 billion.

Mr Coste will also be expected to come up with concepts which will improve the airline’s dwindling income with fewer planes as well as making decision on where to fly, how often and, more importantly, how much to charge customers.

“We must balance what we can charge for a route and what we actually do charge. We should not price ourselves out of the market,” Michael Joseph, KQ’s chairman, told the Business Daily last Friday.

“We have just hired a commercial director and one of his mandate will be to look at ticket pricing and our sales. We need to look at our ticketing and balance it better.”

On his LinkedIn page, Mr Coste says his “main focus is to achieve ambitious revenue and cost targets in highly competitive environments.”

KLM, which owns a 26.7 per cent stake in KQ, has increasingly been keen to have its insiders secure key positions within the cash-strapped national airline.

In July, Kenya Airways picked Jan de Vegt as its new chief operating officer (COO) to replace Yves Guibert who left the airline amid a staff and company restructuring which began last year.

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