Kenya is delaying a decision on whether to grant Emirates Airlines a third daily flight into Nairobi until the nationalisation plan for the troubled Kenya Airways is completed.
Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary (PS) Macharia Kamau said Tuesday the move was meant to ensure future air agreements with other countries also take into consideration the position of the national carrier.
“We do have a technical issue; it is actually a political issue that needs to be sorted… the National Assembly, as you may know, has recommended that our airline needs to be structured. Because of that issue of our airline restructuring, we cannot make any decision for now,” Mr Kamau said.
He spoke after meeting a delegation from the United Arab Emirates, in the country to sign various bilateral agreements under an arrangement known as the Joint Commission on Cooperation (JCC).
Mr Kamau did not elaborate whether other bilateral air arrangements on air cooperation will be affected, referring the Business Daily to the Transport ministry for further information. But he hinted there will be a general freeze on decisions until it is clear how Kenya Airways will be run.
“I expect that all [decisions] are affected,” the PS said.
On Tuesday, the UAE Ambassador to Kenya Khalid alMualla and Mr Kamau signed agreements, including sharing diplomatic trainings, sharing data on labour recruitment organisations to combat human trafficking, arrangement for future Kenyan projects to be funded by the Abu Dhabi Development Fund as well as cooperation on multilateral fronts.
But they didn’t sign an amended aviation cooperation agreement which would have allowed the Emirates to fly to Nairobi three times daily, up from the current two times. Another Emirati airline, whose name was not disclosed, had also applied to start flying to Nairobi. The decision will be made later, the PS said.
Last week, the National Assembly recommended that Kenya Airways be nationalised in a plan modelled on successful national carriers such as Ethiopian Airlines. Under the proposal, Kenya Airways is to be put under a holding company.