41 new helicopters listed ahead of polls


A police officer watches as a helicopter carrying Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, his Kiharu counterpart Ndindi Nyoro and Kikuyu’s Kimani Ichung’wa lands at Kamucheru primary school in Mathira on October 13, 2020. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG

New helicopter registration rose by 41 last year as politicians ventured into the general election campaign period.

Official data show the number of registered planes increased by 47, excluding those owned by the National Police Service and the Kenya Defence Forces, to 782 last year.

But 41 of the 47 were choppers, reflecting the increased demand from politicians who prefer helicopters during campaigns because of landing ease.

This is a jump from 26 freshly registered choppers in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic reduced the number of registered aircraft by72 planes.

Chopper users, mainly politicians and wealthy businessmen, defied the slump in air travel in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that saw them ground helicopters and small jets.

A number of politicians own choppers, which they lease out or use during an electioneering period.

“The resumption of international flights on August 1, 2021, within the Covid-19 operating period spurred revival of passenger operations within the aviation industry and operators renewed their certificates of airworthiness in order to continue with operations,” said the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA)on Thursday.

“Most aircraft had been parked during the Covid period 2019/2020.” Kenya’s economy has rebounded following the easing of measures aimed at curbing the Covid-19 spread while travel has also resumed.

Kenyans got to the polls on August 9 and thousands seek positions to become President, governors, MPs and county assembly members.

Kenya’s business magnates, politicians and new millionaires are fast taking to the skies as the preferred mode of transport , expanding the market for leasing and private ownership of planes.

Apart from urban-based business leaders, politicians and wealthy deal-makers, Kenyan skies are also dominated by large-scale farmers and ranchers based in Narok, Laikipia and Nanyuki.

The farmers mostly use their small aircraft to spray crops.

Aero Club of East Africa — a lobby group of private aircraft owners — attributed the recent growth in the number of registered planes to Nairobi’s rising status as the region’s business hub with a growing number of wealthy individuals with the means to own and maintain an aircraft.

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