Original Research

Turbulences associated with the implementation of turnaround strategies at Kenya Airways

Kaizer Nyatsumba, David Pooe
Africa’s Public Service Delivery & Performance Review | Vol 10, No 1 | a571 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/apsdpr.v10i1.571 | © 2022 Kaizer Nyatsumba, David Pooe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 June 2021 | Published: 14 February 2022

About the author(s)

Kaizer Nyatsumba, Department of Business Management, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
David Pooe, Department of Business Management, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


Background: At its formation, Kenya Airways (KQ) was poorly capitalised and its management team highly inexperienced. The airline’s financial and related performance deteriorated from the early years, thus affecting the airline’s financial health and its reputation negatively. In an effort to correct matters, KQ went through four turnaround situations over the years.

Aim: This article explores experiences and challenges associated with the KQ implementation of its turnaround strategies.

Setting: The study is based on KQ, which has seen one turnaround between 2004 and 2016.

Method: The article adopted a qualitative research approach using a case study research design. Eleven participants were purposively selected for the interviews. Documents were also used as sources of data. Thematic data analysis was used as a form of content analysis.

Results: Seven themes emerged from the primary data analysis. These include: employee involvement, exogenous factors, high operational and debt servicing costs, management-union conflict, debt restructuring, nationalisation and leadership.

Conclusion: The study concludes that the kind of leadership required during turnaround situations differs from when the company is on autopilot. During turnaround times, the chief executive officer (CEO) needs to exercise the authority recommended in the literature and that the shareholder and the board needs to give them the necessary space to exercise such authority.


Kenya Airlines; turnaround strategy; aviation industry; leadership; employee involvement


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Crossref Citations

1. Challenges faced by CEOs in executing turnaround strategies in state-owned enterprises in South Africa
Morongwa Mpete, Christoph Maier
South African Journal of Business Management  vol: 55  issue: 1  year: 2024  
doi: 10.4102/sajbm.v55i1.4220