National carrier Kenya Airways (KQ) has renewed the contracts of four Polish expatriates whose terms lapsed in June. The team members, who came with outgoing chief executive Sebastian Mikosz two years ago, are expected to spearhead the nationalisation of the flagging airline. Each of the team members has been handed a six-month contract extension, during which they will set up structures that will eventually lead to KQ reverting back to the Government. This follows a recommendation by Parliament. The four are expected to develop a plan that will birth the Kenya Aviation Holding Group, which will own KQ as well as other aviation entities such as the Kenya Airports Authority and an aviation college. Other key tasks that the team will be charged with are the drafting legislation to set up the entities as well as propose to the Government how it should deal with the current shareholders. The proposal to nationalise the airline and have an aviation holding group came after Parliament shot down an earlier proposal for a partnership between KQ and the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, which the carrier had set down in a Privately Initiated Investment Proposal (PIIP) The initial Polish team comprised of six members, but two opted out of renewing their contracts. They had reportedly been treated to a cold reception at KQ’s North Airport Road offices, which has persisted throughout the two years. Transport Principal Secretary Esther Koimett told The Standard the team had been expanded and would include other KQ staff, who would continue with the implementation of plans after the contracts of the four expatriates lapse. "We made the request (for contract extension) because they have been handling the transactions that had been contemplated and now have been approved by Parliament. Now that we are going into implementation, we felt that we needed continuity as well as the know-how of the team considering that it has been handling the transactions," she said. "The team has been expanded to include other members of staff so that by the time their contracts end there is proper continuity.” The polish consultants had caused uneasiness at the airline particularly because of their higher pay as well as easy access to the chief executive who is their compatriot.
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