On a continent where a majority of national airlines are battling to stay in the skies, Kenya Airways (KQ) presence is more of an exception than a rule.
With a fleet of more than 20 modern aircrafts, KQ is part of an exclusive club with the likes of South African Airways, Egypt Air, Air Maroc, Air Mauritius, Tunisia Airlines, Air Afrique and Ethiopian Airlines.
Recently, news that Rwanda had received the International ‘Unity is Strength’ award was quickly eclipsed by the news that three top government officials have expressed an intention to sue KQ over what they termed as “mistreatment, humiliation, harassment, disrespect and abuse of clients travelling with the airliner.”
According to The New Times of Saturday issue No. 2081 , Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Denis Polisi and Senator Specioza Ayinkamiye made the threats on arrival at Kigali International Airport after their ‘long frustrating’ flight from Nairobi to Kigali.
The revelation that the government big shots were not booked on another airline or put on the next KQ flight to Kigali smells of corporate complacency on the part of the regional flyer. Eventually, the minister and his colleagues decided to buy tickets from RwandAir to Kigali.
What the government officials experienced is not really news. Many people have complained about the humiliating customer care services of KQ.
What was new was the fact that top government officials were the victims this time.
The justice minister and several other people who have endured the poor services of the airline that claims to be the ‘Pride of Africa’ should not tolerate this kind of treatment ever again.
Our President has often urged us not to accept poor customer care from anyone and I believe that includes KQ who have an office here.
There are indeed other airlines that fly to Kigali that one can resort to in protest of the complacency exhibited by Kenya Airways.
RwandAir’s Marketing and Corporate Communications officer, Michael Otieno once told me about his discomfort with the fact that even ministers and other top government officials preferred to use Kenya Airways to destinations like Nairobi and Entebbe which are served by RwandAir. Is it not ironic that at the end of the day, our ministers were saved by RwandAir.
When Pres. Museveni was launching Air Uganda in November 2007, he made a scathing attack on KQ.
He argued that the reason he had begged the Aga Khan (Air Uganda is partly owned by the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development) to invest in Uganda’s aviation industry was because he had received numerous complaints on how KQ was mistreating ‘his people’ by charging exorbitant fares and travelling late in the night among others.
We should not allow KQ to hold us ransom when we have options. If they really care about their customers they have to improve and we shall not wait for them to do that where there is competition.
As our justice minister awaits justice from the Kenyan courts, the adage that a customer is king should not be forgotten, especially by the customers.