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Proposal by KQ to takeover JKIA important for the economy says PS

Transport Principal Secretary Esther Koimet has said the proposed Kenya Airways takeover of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) is still in early days and no decision has been reached yet.

The PS said the proposal to have Kenya airways to run JKIA over a 30 year period while paying concession fees to Kenya Airports Authority( KAA) was still being thought through and all issues were being looked at before a decision is made on the holding structure between KQ and KAA.

She however reiterated that the proposal was critical for the country if Jomo Kenyatta International Airport was to become the aviation hub in the region.

“The discussions going on about the proposal is because people are still at different levels of information since the idea is still in early days,’said the PS in Uasin Gishu on Friday.

She was on a mission to monitor the piloting of the national integrated identity management system( NIIMS) registration. She was accompanied by Industrialisation PS Betty Maina.

Her sentiments come on the backdrop of a rejection of the proposal by the National Assembly Public Investments Committee members who said the process be put on hold and a forensic audit done by the office of the auditor general.

Ms Koimett said the MPs have a right as the people’s representatives to demand to understand the transaction, ‘until we get to the same level’.

She however explained that the transaction had not been completed on how best it can be structured.

“On the one hand we need a policy for consolidating aviation assets for the purpose of creating and strengthening our hub and making it competitive the African Airspace is opened up and on the other hand the legal holding structure, will it be a KQ owned only structure or jointly owned by KQ and KAA,” she said.

She explained that with stiff competition coming from other regional airlines the country needs to take action to ensure JKIA remains the regions’ aviation hub.

“The takeover idea is  to get Kenya Airways and Kenya Airports Authority to work together towards making JKIA the true aviation hub,” she stressed, adding “we need to look at our airport and airline as assets for the economy not as business for the bottom line”.

The PS defended the proposal to have KQ takeover JKIA saying other international and regional airlines were running their airports.

‘Emirates and Ethiopia airlines run their airports, Rwanda is doing the same and these are the people we compete with,’ she said adding that nobody else was going to build JKIA into a hub apart from KQ  that has the interest as our asset.

Ms Koimett added that KAA and KQ have symbiotic relations that just needs an idea on how they can be made profitable for the economy.

“Without KQ  KAA will not be as effective and as profitable as it can be and without KAA  KQ does not exist,” she stressed.

When objecting the takeover the MPs said the plan in which KQ would tentatively run JKIA for 30 years was suspect and a case of top forces conniving to rip off the taxpayers and warned that Kenya risks losing billions of shillings in revenue should the deal be allowed to proceed.

By Kiptanui  Cherono

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