KQ’s Sh2.2 billion excess baggage fraud

FISHY: Kenya Airways staff at work FILE If you travel frequently on Kenya Airways without baggage to check-in, chances are the chatty customer service agent with a killer smile who checks you in for your flight and wishes you safe flight” in a beautiful voice could be preying on you.

The details of this are contained in an audit report prepared by the audit firm Deloitte four years ago.

The audit report on Kenya Airways reveals that the agents have devised schemes to make quick cash from desperate or crooked passengers keen on carrying all their shopping to their destination cheaply.

They take bribes and in exchange allow passengers with excess baggage to travel with their load, in effect compromising not just the safety of the whole aircraft, but even the revenues of Kenya’s national carrier.

All these games are dangerous because the net effect is that it may be difficult to tell if the plane is overloaded just by looking at the data in the check-in desk.

Luggage data plus the passenger information is used to calculate “take-off optimization”, which is the maximum weight for a safe take-off.

The report which was submitted to the audit and risk committee of the Kenya Airways’ board of directors revealed that as a result of incorrect billing, and incorrect baggage allowance, and these under-the-table waivers of excess baggage charges, the airline had lost an estimated Sh2.2 billion within six months.

The irregularities were reported in 12 stations from Nairobi (Kenya), London (UK), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Douala (Cameroon), Free Town (Sierra Leone), Mumbai (India), Johannesburg (South Africa), Hanoi (Vietnam), Guangzhou (China), Bangkok (Thailand), Hong Kong, Accra (Ghana), Paris (France), Kinshasa (DRC) and Dubai (United Arab Emirates).

The shocking revelation in the report is that it was impossible to look at the check-in data and get an accurate picture of how much revenue had come in as a result of excess baggage.

“We established that KQ does not have a centralised system that integrates all the excess baggage information of KQ passenger flights."

The report generated from the departure control system did not have key unique fields that are critical in the identification of irregularities in excess baggage billing and allowances.For instance, the excess baggage ticketing system that reports excess baggage revenue did not have the total weight uplifted for each passenger, the class flown, and the corresponding ticket numbers …this makes it is impracticable to audit …and implies that fraud and other irregularities […]

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