The CEO and CFO of Air Mauritius have been suspended pending an investigation of allegations that the pair accepted a hotel stay in Paris from one of the airline’s suppliers.
Krešimir Kučko, who over the past decade had served as CEO of Croatia Airlines and of Gulf Air, only took on the Air Mauritius CEO job in December. And the story strikes me as a bit… weird?
- Mauritius has one of the best business environments in Africa, but Air Mauritius is a government-controlled enterprise. There’s political jockeying over whom should run the airline.
- Can it really be so cheap to bribe a long-time airline CEO? Or is it just a case of top airline leadership being careless? They shouldn’t leave themselves so open, considering the environment they’re in. Why give opponents ammunition?
Air Mauritius Business Class
There’s a history of corruption at the national carrier. The Caisse Noire Affair scandal at the airline involved twenty years of payments from an illicit Swiss bank account to airline officials, journalists and politicians and financed political newspapers, electoral campaigns, and luxuries for executives. Whistleblowers were sacked by airline management.
Bribery is almost de rigueur in certain parts of the airline industry. Airbus reportedly bribed top Canadian officials in the 1990s in exchange for Air Canada ordering its aircraft. And they paid around $4 billion in penalties over the past few years to settle bribery allegations. That’s simply how business is done in parts of the world, but it’s deemed unacceptable for businesses based in Europe and the United States (and a tool for ousting rivals in Africa).