, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 8 – Former Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni has distanced himself from reports that corruption was rife during his tenure at the airline, insisting he has never been involved in graft.
Naikuni who was at the helm of the Pride of Africa for 11 years said he was not aware of any corruption adding that he was willing to be investigated to clear his name.
“I am not aware of any corruption; I have never been involved in corruption. Never! I am open and ready to be investigated,” said Naikuni.
During an appearance before the Senate select committee inquiring into the affairs of Kenya Airways and its subsidiaries, Naikuni was hard pressed to explain why the airline retrenched staff most of whom were locals and later employed foreigners, an issue that is still in court.
Last year, the airline after assessing its financial performance decided to declare 554 staff redundant prompting 447 of them through the labour union to move to court challenging the decision.
Soon after the retrenchment, KQ went ahead to hire 517 foreigners at enviable salaries amid uproar from unions and which acting Labour Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo says is under investigation.
Naikuni however maintains the move to employ foreigners was above board, met international standards and the staff were in fact licensed by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA).
On the question of why the Mawingu project targeted at increasing the fleet size from 35 to 119 failed to produce the expected results, Naikuni blamed the slow expansion of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on the downfall of the project.
He however defended the joint venture with KLM absolving it from blame for the Sh26 billion as posted by the airline stating that during his tenure profit sharing increased from 40-60 percent to 50-60 percent.
He blamed terrorism and the Ebola outbreak for the losses made by the airline stating that the Ministry of Health and that of Transport had barred KQ from the affected routes.
In an earlier appearance before the same committee, Health CS James Macharia said the routes had to be closed to prevent the spread of the disease adding that they had since directed the airline to re-open the four routes it had advised to cease flying.
Immigration Director General Gordon Kihalangwa is expected to appear before the committee next Tuesday to give an accurate account of how many foreigners are working for the airline and the terms of service.
Senators present during the sitting were committee Chairman Anyang’ Nyong’o (Kisumu), James Orengo (Siaya), Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni), Hassan Omar (Mombasa), Wilfred Lessan (Bomet) and Daniel Karaba (Kirinyaga).