Former Kenya Airways CEO and managing director Sebastian Mikosz (pictured) has joined IATA.
The International Air Transport Association has announced Mikosz will join as the Senior Vice President for Member and External Relations, effective June 1, 2020.
Mikosz, was KQ chief executive between 2017 and 2019.
His work experience includes being CEO of LOT Polish Airlines (2009-2011 and 2013-2015) and the CEO of Poland’s largest online travel agency, the eSKY Group (2015-2017).
IATA represents some 290 airlines comprising 82 per cent of global air traffic.
At IATA, Mikosz will lead the organization’s global advocacy activities and aero-political policy development.
He takes over from Paul Steele, who retired from IATA in October 2019. Brian Pearce, IATA’s Chief Economist has been handling the duties of the post on an ad interim basis since then.
IATA director general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said, “Mikosz brings with him a wealth of experience in the public and private sectors that will be critical in advancing the global aviation industry’s advocacy agenda."
He added that at this time of unprecedented crisis, the airline industry needs a strong voice.
"We must restore the confidence of governments and travelers so that aviation can re-start, lead an economic recovery, and connect the world."
Mikosz said avation is in crisis and all industry and government stakeholders have high expectations for IATA to play a critical role in driving the recovery.
"From my experience as an airline CEO and as a member of the IATA Board of Governors, I know how important IATA is to the global connectivity.
The Polish national is a graduate of the Institute of Political Studies in France with a Master’s degree in Economics and Finance.
A lot of expectations had been placed on the turnaround chief executive when he reported to Nairobi in 2017, but in May last year, he announced he would be leaving at the end of December, several months before the end of his three-year contract.
When he took up the chief executive job, Mikosz appeared to have been in it for the long haul.
While Mikosz still insists that his decision to quit was due to personal reasons, he hints that the issue of politics getting in the way of his running the airline may have proved the proverbial last straw.
“It came at an extremely high personal cost. It was much higher than I thought. The restructuring of an airline like this is also an energy killer. It sucks all the energy.
“I was not hired to attract political attention, but I ended up doing it. With time, my mandate changed from restructuring an airline to include making a case for the change of the airline’s mandate. I was hired to restructure the airline but ended up showing that the airline cannot be restructured if we do not change the environment.
"Then, of course, you will find people who have made the company toxic when they start attacking you and not your decisions. Maybe I should have been tougher, but I believe I was tough.”
Mikosz said he would over the remaining two months “do everything to prove that KQ is moving in the right direction.”
“I am not walking away bitter and would like to stay connected to Kenya in future,” he said.
But despite his assurances and optimism, the CEO’s tenure was nothing short of underwhelming, having left the airline in no better shape than he found it.
Before his arrival, his reputation preceded him as the aviation sector turnaround CEO after a successful stint at LOT Polish Airlines in his native Poland.
He was, however, not able to replicate the success that earned him the title and leaves at a time when KQ is still making losses, having at first managed to reduce the losses before tumbling back into the red.