Wednesday August 21, 2019
Home Lead Story Kenya’s...

Kenya’s Parliament to Nationalize Country’s Main Airline Kenya Airways

A failed expansion drive and a slump in air travel forced it to restructure $2 billion of debt in 2017

0
//
Kenya, Airline, Parliament
FILE - Kenya Airways planes are seen parked at the Jomo Kenyatta International airport near Kenya's capital Nairobi, April 28, 2016. VOA

Kenya’s parliament voted on Tuesday to nationalize the country’s main airline Kenya Airways to save it from mounting debts.

The loss-making airline, which is 48.9% government-owned and 7.8% held by Air France-KLM, has been struggling to return to profitability and growth.

A failed expansion drive and a slump in air travel forced it to restructure $2 billion of debt in 2017. The airline later proposed taking over the running of Nairobi’s main airport to boost its revenue.

Parliament’s transport committee, however, rejected that plan, recommending instead the nationalization of the airline in a report debated by the national assembly on June 18.

Kenya, Airline, Parliament
Kenya’s parliament voted on Tuesday to nationalize the country’s main airline Kenya Airways to save it from mounting debts. Pixabay

In a voice vote taken on Tuesday afternoon, the majority of lawmakers in the chamber voted to accept the report.

Kenya Airways Chairman Michael Joseph told Reuters the vote was “great news.”

“Nationalization is what is necessary to compete on a level playing field. It is not what we want, but what we need,” he said, referring to competitors such as Ethiopian Airlines which are state-run and profitable.

Air France-KLM could not immediately be reached for comment.

Also Read- Syria: Small Group of Young Students Create Secret Library Deep Underneath Bullet-Ridden Buildi

The government will now draw up an implementation plan, with clear time lines, said Esther Koimett, the principal secretary at the ministry of transport.

“Parliament is our boss … we will obviously take the recommendations of parliament,” she told Reuters.

Kenya is seeking to emulate countries like Ethiopia which run air transport assets from airports to fueling operations under a single company, using funds from the more profitable parts to support others, such as national airlines.

“The government is keen to take a consolidated view of aviation assets of the country in order to make sure they work in a coherent and efficient way to support the (Nairobi aviation) hub,” Koimett said.

Kenya, Airline, Parliament
The loss-making airline, which is 48.9% government-owned and 7.8% held by Air France-KLM, has been struggling to return to profitability and growth. Pixabay

The committee’s report proposes that Kenya set up an aviation holding company with four subsidiaries, one of which would run Kenya Airways. Another arm of the holding company would operate Nairobi’s main international airport.

The committee’s report also recommended the holding company be given tax concessions for a period to be determined and that it be exempted from paying excise duty on all goods, including jet fuel.

Koimett dismissed concerns that nationalization could lead to further mismanagement. Kenya’s state-owned enterprises sector is riddled with corporate corpses and near failures caused by theft and poor management over the decades.

“Implementation is really the key thing … Ultimately all these things have to do really with ensuring that we get the right people in the right places,” she said.

Also Read- To Protect Grains from Drought, Australia Searches for Climate-Proof Crops

($1 = 103.7000 Kenyan shillings) (VOA)

Next Story

Popular Kenyan Musician John Ng’ang’a aka John De’Mathew, Dies Through a Tragic Accident

Known as the King of Kikuyu music, the singer was on his way back from an event in the town of Thika when he met with a car accident

0
JOHN-DE-MATHEW
Musician John De Mathew,he Died through a road crash.

By Geoffrey Isaya

Popular Kenyan musician John Ng’ang’a, known by his stage name John De’Mathew, has been killed in a car crash.

Known as the King of Kikuyu music, the singer was on his way back from an event in the town of Thika, 45km (27 miles) north-east of the capital, Nairobi, when his car ploughed into a lorry.

Famous for wearing a white cowboy hat, he reportedly produced more than 50 albums in a three-decade career.

His style of music was known as Benga, with guitar setting a fast-paced rhyme. He always sang in Kikuyu, one of Kenya’s main languages.

The hashtag #RIPDeMathew trended in Kenya for the better part of Monday hours after the news of his demise, with people sharing their memories.

One tweeter said he always addressed social issues in his songs, like one about alcoholism,Tribalism and corruption.

Fans have been paying tribute to Kenyan musician, John Ng’ang’a, known by his stage name John De’Mathew, who has died in a car crash – but not everyone has been praising the Benga singer.

john-de-mathew
John’s songs focused on love, politics and societal ills such as alcoholism – often using proverbs, metaphors and references to Kikuyu mythology. Wikimedia Commons

Dubbed “the King of Kikuyu music” – he was one of the few musicians to be famous countrywide despite only singing in his Kikuyu language.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Twitter that he played a big role in promoting “African cultural heritage through his music”

His songs focused on love, politics and societal ills such as alcoholism – often using proverbs, metaphors and references to Kikuyu mythology.

While some have praised him as a “modern prophet”, one of his political songs was controversial and has divided opinion about his legacy.

Wituite Hiti, which means “You Have Made Yourself a Hyena”, was released ahead of the 2013 election.

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), set up to ease ethnic tensions after the violence that followed the 2007 election, said the lyrics bordered on hate speech.

Also Read: IDC Says Huawei’s Temporary Reprieve Decision Depends on US Tech Firms

It was thought he was referring to politician Raila Odinga, the main rival to Mr Kenyatta, a Kikuyu, who went on to win the presidential vote. De’Mathew was charged in court over the song, but acquitted the following year.

Defending himself, he said the translations were taken out of context and had missed the message of the song. Mr Odinga, who also lost the 2017 presidential vote, has tweeted his condolences to De’Mathew’s family, saying the singer was a great educator “on culture and current affairs”. (IANS)