Dear MK management,

Avec le soutien de

First, allow me to congratulate you for your sheer temerity. I mean imagine making unprecedented, unimaginable losses and coming to face the nation wearing a poker face and trying to pretend that there is a justification for such a gloriously awful performance! We are used to you thumping your chest, bragging about your unique competence and othering others. Today, you look us straight in the eye and tell us that one of the main reasons for the huge loss is the price of fuel. Nothing to do with incompetence or over milking a cow fattened by others. Just the price of fuel! And the business model of course!

Mark Twain once said, “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as much as you please.” Had you heeded such advice, you would have avoided yourselves a great deal of ridicule.

Well, here are the facts you should have got right in the first place:

In 2013, the price of fuel was $108,56 a barrel on average. That dropped slightly to nearly $99 a barrel in 2014. The company still managed to yield a net profit of Rs292 million for the financial year 2013/2014! On the other hand, in 2017, the price per barrel of fuel averaged at $53.6, which rose to $74 in 2018, according to the figures presented by you. And you declare a loss (loss!) of Rs1 billion! Instead of saving and hedging in good times, you, like Lafontaine’s star cicada, instead sang and danced around the world. 

Here are more facts: when the company was paying around $100 a barrel and still returning a handsome profit, it was headed by someone who kept it afloat through sound management and good planning. The first thing the government that appointed you did was to dismiss him with immediate effect for no reason other than pure vindictiveness. Here is another piece of advice: please stop running for a consultant to waste more money and buy time. Our compatriots have already compiled a seven-step ‘business plan’ for you free of charge. 

  1. Sack yourselves with immediate effect. That measure alone will save the company hundreds of millions in salaries and wasteful trips. 
  2. Sack all the board members and put an end to this sickly patronage at our national airline. The board members on MK have proven over the last few years that the only thing they are good at is profiteering. Every time there is a serious act of mismanagement and bad governance, they take to the hills and bury their heads in the sand until the issues have been forgotten about. Think of their deafening silence when a board meeting was called in a record time to sack Meg Pillay and save Mike Seetaramadoo from a disciplinary committee. 
  3. Stop all the privileges drawn by current and former board members for life. These are preposterous and undeserved. A sheer act of daylight robbery.
  4. Trim the company. A lean company stands a better chance of being profitable.
  5. Curb your losses by investing in human resources. If you treat your staff well, your flights will not be unnecessarily grounded, your crew will have broader smiles and your customers will not make a beeline for other airlines. 
  6. Competent people do not sit around waiting for government nominations. They are working hard in the private sector. Headhunt them and let them run the company without interference from the government and other parasites. 
  7. Follow a very simple principle: live according to your means. There is a reason why your predecessors did not jump into the grandiose projects you love to boast about. Unfortunately, fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

Remember that these recommendations emanate from the collective wisdom of our compatriots. Take them or leave them. They are free.

For more views and in-depth analysis of current issues, Weekly magazine (Price: Rs 25) or subscribe to Weekly for Rs110 a month. (Free delivery to your doorstep). Email us on: [email protected]


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