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Ruto asks MPs for support to revive Kenya Airways

Friday March 1 2019

kenya airways

Deputy President William Ruto give his remarks during the launching of a report by the Judiciary on the state of justice administration, at the Supreme Court on February 28, 2019. He wants legislators to help resuscitate KQ. PHOTO | SAMUEL MIRING'U | DPPS 

ABIUD OCHIENG
By ABIUD OCHIENG
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Deputy President William Ruto has requested parliamentarians to give the national government time to devise ways of reviving the ailing Kenya Airways.

Dr Ruto said the airline influences the country’s tourism and horticultural sectors, the country’s primary foreign exchange earners.

“It would be irresponsible for the Executive to allow Kenya Airways to go down because, if this were to happen, it will mean it goes down with our tourism and horticulture sector,” he said on Thursday at the Supreme Court during the launch of the 2017-2018 State of the Judiciary and Administration of Justice Report.

The Cabinet has been working on modalities to ensure that the loss-making Kenya Airways regains its wings.

However, perceived mistrust between the Executive and the Legislature saw Parliament block the proposed takeover of the running of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) by the airline.

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The National Assembly’s Public Investments Committee (PIC) last Thursday ordered an immediate halt to the process. It also demanded a forensic audit by the Office of the Auditor-General on how the deal was reached.

The MPs said the plan that would see the national carrier run JKIA for 30 years was suspect.

The move, they warned, would deprive Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) of significant resources as the concession fee will not cover the operational costs of the country’s remaining airports.

Dr Ruto added that the collapse of the national carrier would also result in a reduction of revenue for KAA because 70 percent of the authority's revenue comes from Kenya Airways.

“So when we structure a mechanism to ensure that we have a win-win situation to salvage a very important strategic institution like Kenya Airways, our Legislature comes in and makes the whole situation toxic,” Dr Ruto said.

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He said nothing has happened yet, and that the Cabinet has only approved the putting together of a transaction so that “we can find a befitting mechanism that will make sure that Kenya Airways survives, continues to help us with our tourism, our horticulture and ensure that this national asset is made viable".

The PIC, chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir, has expressed concern that the plan is being rushed despite the obvious associated risks such as its viability and the potential loss of jobs at KAA.

On Tuesday, the team sent away Transport Principal Secretary Esther Koimet and Kenya Airways Chief Executive Sebastian Mikosz for failing to provide the proposal that contains details of the planned takeover.

Dr Ruto requested the Legislature to give the Executive an opportunity to structure the relationship, adding that as a responsible government, they will pass the proposal through the Cabinet, and that when a decision is finally made it will be taken to the National Assembly and the Senate for approval, so that all the relevant stakeholders are involved.