Kenya Airways chief executive Sebastian Mikosz has termed “groundless and unjustified” claims on social media that he earns a monthly salary of over Sh8 million.
In a statement sent to newsrooms, Mr Mikosz said his monthly salary was Sh2.7 million, which was subject to 29 per cent income tax that he pays to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
He also denied that the national carrier is headed by a coterie of 21 expatriates who take home a combined Sh70 million per month.
“The authors of this letter did not check the basic facts so as to mislead the public. I would like to assure you that I am not taking the efforts at misinformation and defamation lightly and I’ve already taken legal action against individuals and groups spreading the defamatory statements. Let the courts objectively assess the facts and pass judgment,” he said.
The claims that were widely circulated by blogs quoted a statement from the Kenya Aviation Workers Union (Kawu) secretary general Moss Ndiema.
This came as KAWU members downed their tools on Wednesday, paralysing business at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) while protesting against the planned takeover of the airport by Kenya Airways.
Mr Ndiema is in police custody after he was arrested during the Wednesday protests.
Said Mr Mikosz in the statement: “As of today, KQ employs 18 expatriates, including all secondments, out of the total number of more than 3,000 employees. This is approximately 0.6 per cent of the entire KQ staff.”
He added that of the 18 foreign employees, five are KLM managers seconded to Kenya Airways.
Two of them are occupying senior positions of chief operating officer and head of global sales.
“Although they work for KQ, they remain KLM employees. Their salaries and any other benefits are covered by KLM. This means that no one in KQ has access to that information. The amounts in the public domain are, therefore, purely fictitious and aimed at creating negative emotions in the working environment,” he said.
He said of the top 50 managers, seven are foreigners, representing just 14 per cent of the leadership team.
“This means our company is run by a strong contingent of Kenyans who represent 86 per cent of the highest positions in the company. The remaining seconded employees ensure knowledge transfer and address competency gaps in the areas of financial modelling, building business cases and coordinating the strategic projects.
“They leverage experience gathered in the restructuring of companies in Europe. This also relates to the team of seven consultants, commonly referred to as the ‘polish team’. Moreover, fees for their services are also much lower than of the consulting companies that supported KQ in the past,” he said.
Mr Mikosz defended two women senior managers, Angela Nderu and Catherine Kamau, who he said earned their positions through merit.
“Angela has grown in KQ and is a great example of a policy of promoting internal talent to key positions. She has worked in KQ for more than 10 years. She studied abroad, gained international experience and was promoted to become the Head of the Strategy Team. Catherine has a sizeable international experience in airlines from Abu Dhabi and from Seychelles. She was recruited directly by our previous CCO and went through a normal process of interviews. She decided to come back to Kenya to take the position of Head of Marketing,” he said.
He also defended his wife, Magda Mikosz, against allegations that she works in Kenya.
“My wife does not and has never worked for Deloitte Kenya. Magda worked as a partner for Deloitte Central Europe in the past. When we moved to Kenya, she decided to stop working, leave Deloitte and support me in my current role,” he said.