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Naikuni: The man who flew KQ to new heights

In spite of a serious restructuring ahead of the privatisation period, Titus Naikuni takes much of the credit for the expansion of the national carrier, Kenya Airways.

In his 10-year tenure at the volatile aviation firm, Mr Naikuni has seen KQ’s revenue treble to approximately Sh90 billion, passenger numbers jump to 3.6 million from 1.6 and the fleet double to 42.

The self-assured man has of late come under heavy criticism due to the inconsistent performance of the partially owned state firm, but he retains his credentials in the turn-around league.

When he took over KQ in 2003, the profits were Sh500 million and but they jumped to Sh2 billion the following year.

Dream team

Under his leadership, the national carrier has revamped its fleet and become the first airline in the East and Central African region to join a global alliance (Sky Team), as well as a leading beacon of private enterprise in a region where state ownership remains the norm.

Last month, Mr Naikuni received the Airline Business Award which distinguishes an individual who has made a lasting strategic contribution to the air transport business, at the Airline Strategy Awards 2013 held in London, United Kingdom.

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nairobi and is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Management Development Programme (PMD71).

He has also been awarded a Doctor of Science Engineering by the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKuat), an honorary award in recognition of his huge contribution to the country’s development.

He joined the then British-owned Magadi Soda Company in 1979 as a trainee engineer and rose to the position of managing director in 1995 and MD Magadi Railway Company (a subsidiary of Magadi Soda Company) in 1996.

Between August 1999 and March 2001, Mr Naikuni was a member of World Bank-sponsored technocrats known as the Dream Team who were engaged by President Daniel Arap Moi to turn around the ailing Kenyan economy.

Others included Dr Richard Leakey and Martin Oduor Otieno.

Permanent Secretary

He served as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Transport and Communications, and was in that capacity,  a board member of KQ.

 

He returned to Magadi Soda Company in April 2001 where he continued to serve as managing director, a position he held up to his appointment at Kenya Airways in February 2003.