Kenya Airways CEO not going anywhere just yet
Now that the Board of Directors has officially confirmed the news, the story can also be told here after the “embargo” period has effectively lapsed. Dr. Titus Naikuni, CEO of Kenya Airways and Managing Director of the Kenya Airways Group, is not going anywhere, not for another year anyway, as his contract has been extended by a further 12 months until the end of December next year.
It was also confirmed by a board source that the search for a successor has now commenced to ensure a smooth handover of responsibilities during a phase for Kenya’s national airline thought absolutely critical for the future development and in particular the rollout of “Plan Mawingo” which will constitute the legacy of the Naikuni years at the helm of Kenya Airways.
The investors briefing yesterday in Nairobi indicated that the airline may return to profitability in the 2013/14 financial year, a development which will put smiles back on the faces of the shareholders who endured a bad year in 2012/13 but stuck to their shares knowing that this was to be a one off and that the medium to long term prospects of Kenya Airways were broadly judged as between good and very good.
Dr. Naikuni has during his years at the helm turned the fortunes of Kenya Airways from a continental “also be” to a continental market leader, which saw a major rebranding of the airline and a sustained fleet renewal and expansion program which has changed the face of KQ altogether. Now flying a fleet of 20 Embraer E 190 – the latest of these state of the art jets is due to be ferried from Brazil to Nairobi anytime from now – has this aircraft type replaced the ageing B737-300’s on most regional routes, across East Africa, to the Seychelles and in fact across much of the continent, with the larger B737-800NG’s now serving routes with higher density yet not enough demand yet to deploy wide bodied equipment.
Only two weeks ago did Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta publicly launch KQ’s latest long haul wide body “bird,” a Boeing B777-300ER which will in 5 days commence scheduled services three times a week nonstop from Nairobi to Guangzhou in China, offering 400 seats in two state of the art cabins, with 372 seats in a 3x3x3 configuration in economy class and 28 seats in a brand new business class section, featuring the latest flat bed seat technology
For 2014, the airline expects to be the second in Africa after Ethiopian Airlines to receive the Boeing B787 Dreamliner – and conventional wisdom has it that KQ happily left the honors of being Africa’s launch airline for this aircraft to ET as a result of the teething problems this aircraft had in its early months after the commercial launch – when from March 2014 onwards a total of 6 of these most modern commercial aircraft in use will be delivered. Boeing is also due to deliver a further B737-800NG with their Sky Interior to Kenya Airways as will two more B777-300ER join the fleet next year, while the entire fleet of B767-300s will be retired.