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Tycoons’ planes put on auction to clear KAA parking fees

A section of Wilson Airport
A section of Wilson Airport. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Fifteen aircraft abandoned at the Wilson Airport are on the verge of being auctioned to offset rising parking fees after the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) declared them a safety risk.

KAA, which is in charge of operations, safety and security at all Kenyan airports, has given their owners one month to claim them.

Most of the planes are the type used by business tycoons and politicians for short flights, while others are commercial aircraft.

"The aircraft must be removed within 30 days from the date of publication of this notice and upon payment of all outstanding charges and any incidental costs including the cost of publication of this notice, failure to which the said aircrafts will be sold by public auction and proceeds of sale shall be defrayed against any incurred charges and the balance if any shall remain at the owner’s credit but should there be a shortfall, the owner shall be liable thereof," reads the Kenya Gazette notice.

One local commercial carrier owns one of the abandoned aircraft that has a capacity of up to 55 passengers, including three crew members. The Dutch model F27, whose wing span extends up to 29 metres, is registered as 5X-FFD, which is a Ugandan registration number series. Kenyan aircraft are registered with the initials 5Y.

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Other smaller models including the HS 748, a medium-sized turboprop airliner, and Beechcraft Baron (BE200 and BE)90 belonging to Canadian Operator Knight Aviation are also listed in the notice.

The aircraft are said to have accumulated huge parking and landing fees arrears.

KAA did not disclose the fees and penalties owed by the airlines.

Wilson Airport insiders say some of the aircraft have been abandoned by their owners for more than ten years and have accumulated charges to the tune of millions of shillings.

While some were said to be in serviceable condition, others are only worth their scrap metal after years of inactivity and theft of parts.

Regional carrier Phoenix Air, IAP Group Australia and Superior Aviation companies are also listed as being owners of one aircraft each.

The small planes are mainly used for chattered short flights by the rich.

Aviation rules require that planes parked at gazetted points like airports.

There are about 100 helicopters in Kenya, most of which are used during elections when politicians traverse the country while hunting for votes.

It costs up to Sh170,000 per hour to lease a light plane. Owning, operating and maintaining one is an expensive affair.

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