Wamae consortium secures 25-year JKIA catering deal


Mr Ndung’u Gathinji (left) and Mr Matu Wamae, directors of Apatana Investments, which has secured the deal with German multinational Deutsche Lufthansa to set up Kenya’s second inflight catering company at JKIA. Photos/FILE

A consortium of investors comprising local businessmen Matu Wamae and Ndung’u Gathinji and German multinational Deutsche Lufthansa has secured a 25-year deal to set up Kenya’s second inflight catering company at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

Mr Wamae is currently the New KCC chairman while Mr Gathinji is chairman of the Drummond Investment Bank.

The two have partnered with Lufthansa’s catering subsidiary, LSG Sky Chefs, to build the catering unit at an estimated cost of Sh435 million.

“We recently signed the partnership with LSG Sky Chefs and it will last for the life of the concession. That is 25 years,” said Mr Wamae in interview.

NAS Servair has enjoyed monopoly in providing catering services since Independence, serving all major airlines operating at JKIA and Moi International Airport, Mombasa.

Mr Wamae’s consortium has for a while been in negotiations with LSG Sky Chefs over the partnership that will see them get a slice of a business estimated to be worth Sh16 billion in annual revenues.

“We are busy finalising drawings for construction of the facility in readiness for the ground breaking,” said Mr Wamae.

He, however, declined to divulge further details on the deal, including the shareholding structure, capital investment, identities of other Kenyan investors as well as when actual construction will start.

Mr Wamae and Mr Gathinji secured the deal using their investment vehicle called Apatana Investments, which has several other directors.

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Mr Wamae,75, is an influential businessman and former Mathira MP, with interests in the Mount Kenya Coca-Cola factory, Olympia Capital and other firms. The Ngong Hills Hotel is his main investment in the hospitality industry.

Mr Gathinji is a lawyer whose firm, Drummond Investment Bank, is billed as the oldest member of the Nairobi bourse. He has served in several boards, including chairing the Nairobi Securities Exchange, Ernst & Young East Africa and the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya.

NAS Servair was renamed in 2010 when French multinational Servair acquired a 59 per cent stake in NAS Airport Services from Kenyan investors who included the family of the late Philip Ndegwa, a former CBK governor.

This Sh2.25 billion deal ensured that the monopoly, which began in 1949, was maintained up until recently when the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) floated a tender for a second caterer.

NAS Servair serves about 11,000 inflight meals per day to airlines.

With the ongoing construction of a Sh56 billion terminal at JKIA, the outlook in the inflight catering business looks positive. The airport handles more than six million passengers annually flying in approximately 46 airlines, most of whom are NAS Servair clients.

The new airport is expected to handle about 20 million passengers annually.

Lucy Mbugua, the KAA managing director, says the deal will offer airlines a choice when securing catering services and also introduce competition translating into improved quality of service.

Sky Chefs is currently operational in four African countries — Egypt, Tanzania, and Zambia and South Africa.