August 31, 2019: African aviation industry which has been facing undue political pressure is becoming more evident with the resignation of aviation leaders, who have quit before the expiry of their terms this year. The recent newsmaker in the league is Jonny Andersen, chief executive officer (CEO) of Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), who has quit before the end of his term in November.

Andersen told KAA workers in a memo dated August 30 that he would quit his position on September 30, citing personal reasons. "I would like to take this opportunity to inform you that I have taken the decision not to pursue the decision of the renewal of my contract with KAA. This is after deep reflection and consolation with my family," he said.

However, it is claimed that he had a rough path with the authority during the period he served. Anderson came into limelight during the much-publicised news on Kenya Airways to co-run the airport alongside KAA. In an interview to Logistics Update Africa during Air Cargo Europe 2019 in Munich, Andersen, said, "There have been discussions about trying to find better ways to put Kenya Airways and Kenya Airports Authority together to create more efficient usage of the aviation assets in Kenya. I believe that discussion has not ended, but I am quite sure that we will end up with a result that will actually help us move forward and optimise the aviation sector for the benefit of the operators and customers in Kenya."

He has more recently incurred the wrath of former CEO of Kenya Airways Sebastian Mikosz when he opposed a merger with the carrier which was primarily aimed at having the airlines pending bills to the tune of several billion shillings waived and get hold of KAA's cash reserves to bail themselves out of technical bankruptcy.

In another incident, last July, Kenyan parliamentarians gave him the last chance to provide documents justifying the cancellation of the Sh64.5 billion greenfield terminal project at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). National Assembly's Public Investments Committee (PIC) warned the KAA management lead by Anderson that it would declare them hostile witnesses if all documents surrounding the procurement of a Chinese contractor were not tabled in parliament on time. PIC chairman Abdulswamad Nassir said that parliament would have no other option than to direct investigative agencies, including the directorate of criminal investigations, to seize the documents from KAA.

In March 2019, the Chinese contractor has slapped KAA with a demand for Sh19 billion on the stalled greenfield terminal. The terminal at the JKIA has been suspended over financial constraints. If the terminal was built, it would have expanded the capacity of the airport to 30 million passengers per annum and beyond.

The Norwegian has been at the helm of KAA since November 2016, replacing acting managing director Yatich Kangugo. Prior to joining the authority, he worked with Avinor AS in Norway where he was the national airports director.

KAA chairman Isaack Awuondo said, "Over the three years that Jonny has been at the helm of the authority he has strengthened airport operations and overseen a period of growth in passenger numbers and the number of airlines flying to Kenya."

"Most notably, Jonny will be remembered for leading the team in achieving the last point of departures status for JKIA, paving the way for direct flights between the US and Kenya," a KAA release stated.

Awuondo said that his position will be filled through a competitive process that will commence in the next few weeks. In the meantime, the board will appoint an acting CEO and exercise closer oversight to ensure a smooth transition.

In the recent past, the leaders who quit were Mikosz of Kenya Airways; and South African Airways (SAA) CEO Vuyani Jarana.

After his resignation, Mikosz stated, "You cannot make an airline profitable in one year. Unless you allow me to go outside the law." Along the similar lines, Jarana also cited a lack of state support in terms of funding for the carrier.

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