Friday, February 15, 2013

KQ manager appointed new head of Precision Air

A Precision Air plane. Photo/FILE.

A Precision Air plane. Photo/FILE.  NATION

By NATION CORRESPONDENT

Tanzanian airline Precision Air has picked a senior manager at Kenya Airways as its new chief executive.

Ms Sauda Rajab, who has worked for the national carrier for more than two decades, was introduced as the airline’s new boss in Tanzania on Thursday.

Currently KQ’s general manager for cargo, Ms Rajab will take over her new post in March after the retirement of Mr Alfonse Kioko.

She becomes the second senior employee of the national carrier to head Tanzania’s biggest airline, after Mr Kioko who was appointed to the position in 2003.

“Ms Rajab is the new CEO, but she will be formally introduced in Kenya on Monday. This is all I can say for now,” said Precision Air country manager for Kenya, Ms Lillian Nzioki.

The Dar es Salaam-listed carrier is 41.23 per cent owned by Kenya Airways, Tanzanian Michael Shirima holds 42.91 per cent, while the rest of the shares are held by the public after 2011’s Initial Public Offering.
Expansion plan

The new CEO comes in at a time when Precision Air is pursuing an aggressive expansion plan.

Over the next two years, the company plans on spending about Sh7.83 billion ($90 million) to expand its fleet while launching routes to the Middle East and Europe.

The airline is funding the expansion through a combination of its own capital and debt. Last year, the company’s board opted out of paying dividends in favour of modernising the fleet.

The carrier has also borrowed heavily from Citibank International, the Finnish Fund for Industrial Development and the International Finance Corporation. At one point, the company’s debts exceeded its assets by as much as Sh1.6 billion ($19 million).

Competition over the African skies is heating up with the entry of new players even as regional carriers expand their networks.

Kenya Airways is currently executing a 10-year plan that will see it expand to new destinations.

Further, European carrier FastJet is trying to establish itself locally while Kenya Airways has planned a low cost carrier to serve East Africa, Jambo Jet.

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