MPs oppose bid to have KQ run Jomo Kenyatta airport

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The proposed takeover of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by the Kenya Airways will not be viable, MPs have said.

The National Assembly Public Investments Committee yesterday opposed the plan. Chairman Abdulswamad Nassir said there is a lot at stake. The Kenya Airports Authority has been running the airport.

Nassir said the deal between the national carrier and the KAA raises a lot of questions than answers. The committee has written to the Public Investment secretary to disclose full ownership of KQ and its partner, Dutch Airline KLM.

“From the face value, this is a bad deal. As a committee that plays oversight on such investments, we want to get the nitty-gritties. Jobs are at stake and we’ll also be interested to know why they want to give it to a loss-making entity,” Nassir said.

The government, through the National Treasury, has invested in KQ as part of efforts to return it to profit making. KLM, which signed a 22-year venture with KQ, is reported to own a 13.71 per cent stake, the government 46 per cent and 11 by commercial banks. The banks converted their debts to KQ into equity.

In June last year, the Cabinet, in a policy statement, said the planned merger was part of the financial restructuring to save the airline from collapse. It was also expected to reposition and model its operations along that of its main rival Ethiopian Airlines, which runs Addis Ababa’s Bole International airport.

The public-private partnership was to be signed last September. It would have enabled the takeover of all KAA staff and operations and expansion of its services such as ground handling, maintenance, catering, warehousing and cargo.

The policy, ‘Project Simba’, showed the Sh75 billion state bailout was insufficient to resolve KQ’s problems and recommended that it operate under a comprehensive national aviation policy.



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