Total Quality Management Practices and Performance of Airlines in Kenya, Case of Air Kenya Express Limited
Kiprono, Dorothy Jelimo
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The Airline industry in Kenya is faced by several challenges. The challenges being faced include diminishing market potential, high fuel prices, safety records, need for skilled human resources, internal liberalization, high taxes and the environment. While looking at the market capacity and potential perspective, intercontinental capacity to and from Africa by African airlines currently stands at 36.4% compared with 63.6% by non-African airlines mainly from Europe, the Middle East and lately North America and Asia. As a result of this intense competition on the intercontinental routes, the best opportunities for expansion and growth for African airlines lies in the African regional and domestic markets which have not reached yet. The airline industry in Kenya has found itself in a very competitive market characterized by globalization and increased consumer demand for quality services and increased value for their money. This study sought to determine the effect of total quality management practices on performance of the Air Kenya Express Limited. The study assessed the effect of employee involvement, customer focus, continuous improvement and top management commitment on performance of Air Kenya Express Limited. The indicators of performance were customer and employee satisfaction, profitability and market share. The study was anchored on contingency, quality management theory and balanced score card theory. The study adopted a descriptive research design. The target population for the study was the management employees at Air Kenya who fell in five main departments which include administration, engineering, finance, marketing and Public Relations/Communications department. There were a total of 50 staff members and since the population was small, a census was adopted. Data was collected using questionnaires from strategically sampled respondents who were employees of the airline. Data collected was analyzed and processed using statistical package for social sciences to draw conclusions of the study objectives. The study found out that customer focus, continuous improvement, employee empowerment and top management commitment significantly influenced performance of Air Kenya Express Limited. The study concludes that Air Kenya Company always came up with new products for customers. Air Kenya offered unique and exemplary services, embraced efficiency in its operations and customer feedback was always used to improve service delivery. Air Kenya monitored customer statistics to inform policy and the customer demanded informed company policy. Air Kenya offered and embraced effective customer service, updated customers on new routes, products and services regularly. Air Kenya built capacity among employees to improve service delivery. Employees were involved in decision making and the firm was committed to compensate and reward employees commensurately. The management supported staff to achieve firm mission and vision of the company. The management empowered staff to deliver and participated in improving firm systems. The study recommends Air Kenya to always come up with new products for customers. Air Kenya ought to offer unique and exemplary services and embrace efficiency in its operations. Air Kenya ought to monitor customer statistics to inform policy and the customer ought to demand informed company policy. Employees should to be involved in decision making and the firm has to be committed to compensate and reward employees commensurately. The management also has to support staff to achieve firm mission and vision of the company. The management will empower staff to deliver and participate in improving firm systems.