A parliamentary committee has summoned the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) as it begins investigating plans by Kenya Airways (KQ) to take over the running of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
The National Assembly's Public Investments Committee (PIC) will Thursday meet the board, which it directed to appear alongside Managing Director Jonny Andersen.
During Tuesday’s meeting with Mr Andersen, it emerged that the KAA chairman is also the chief executive officer of one of two private banks that Kenya Airways owes Sh5 billion.
The committee chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir heard that that Mr Isaac Awuondo is the chief executive of the Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA), which is seeking to merge with NIC bank. Kenya Airways owes the two banks Sh5 billion.
Mr Nassir directed Mr Anderson to furnish the committee with a copy of the Cabinet meeting minutes that approved KQ's taking over the running of JKIA, and a letter from the National Treasury on the advice it gave the airline.
“The two banks are merging and the fact that the KAA boss is their CEO is pure conflict of interest,” Mr Nassir said.
“This sounds like a fraudulent marriage between KAA and KQ. We need to call the board and interrogate them further,” Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa added. The committee Tuesday took Mr Anderson to task to explain why he accepted KQ's proposal to take over the management of JKIA from KAA.
“I need to know the main objective of merging KQ and KAA, and in whose interest. The KAA chairman is the CEO of one of the private banks that KQ owes Sh5 billion. The two banks have been merged and this raises the issue of conflict of interest,” said Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter.
“Our hope is in this committee to protect public interest and KAA employees,” he added.
Mr Keter cited Cap 395 of the KAA Act, which prohibits private entities from owning airports.
Mr Anderson told the MPs that KQ had not been sidelined in the planned takeover.
“We are not bystanders in the proposal that came from KQ on the intended merger. We need to process it properly. We need facts on the table before we make a decision,” he said.
“Based on the Cabinet memo, we asked the Treasury for guidance on what to do with the proposal and the Treasury asked us to consider it,” he added.