Economy

MPs reject Uhuru headed team to oversight aviation

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Parliament during a past session. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • A Parliamentary committee has rejected the composition of a yet to be established powerful body headed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to oversee Kenya Airways, manage airports and the aviation regulator under a new legal regime.
  • The National Assembly committee on Transport has asked lawmakers to amend sections of the National Aviation Management Bill that create the National Civil Aviation Council (NCAC).

A Parliamentary committee has rejected the composition of a yet to be established powerful body headed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to oversee Kenya Airways, manage airports and the aviation regulator under a new legal regime.

The National Assembly committee on Transport has asked lawmakers to amend sections of the National Aviation Management Bill that create the National Civil Aviation Council (NCAC) amid a push by lobbies to remove President Kenyatta and Commander of the Kenya Air-Force from the body.

Lobbies including the Kenya Airline Pilots Association (Kapla) and law firms had also lobbied Parliament to drop the Cabinet Secretaries for National Treasury, Transport and Interior and instead include a representative from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA).

They questioned why a civil aviation unit is dominated by government and military top staff and lacks representation from the civil aviation players.

Now, the transport committee has directed MPs to change the composition of the council to include representatives from KCAA, environment and meteorological services.

The aviation council will oversee the yet to be formed Kenya Aviation Corporation, the holding firm for subsidiaries including Kenya Airways, Kenya Airports Authority and Aviation Investment Corporation.

Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki had lobbied for inclusion of President Kenyatta as chair of the council saying that a precedent was set by having the head of State chairing the Climate Change Council.

NCAC will draft policies for the aviation industry.

The draft law seeks to nationalise Kenya Airways.

The State was keen to nationalise KQ before October last year but the bid flew into headwinds after a section of lawmakers blocked the legislation citing lack of public participation.

This prompted National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi to direct the transport committee to undertake fresh public participation.

Kenya Airways was privatised 24 years ago but sank into debt and losses in 2014 after a failed expansion drive, costly purchase of aircraft and a slump in travellers after a major terror attack.

Suspension of international and domestic flights in March last year following outbreak of the coronavirus disease further dented KQ’s fortunes.

First-half pre-tax losses for the period to last June were Sh14.36 billion as Covid-19 derailed travel and slashed revenues. This compared to a Sh8.56 billion loss in the same period a year earlier.

Turnover in the review period plummeted 48 percent to Sh30.21 billion.

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