Nationalising Kenya Airways is welcome

A Kenya Airways plane The government has begun the process of nationalising Kenya Airways to enable it compete with its regional peers, which have eaten into its share of the East African airspace.

Members of Parliament voted in July last year to return the loss-making airline to Kenyans, taking a cue from the successes of the state-owned Ethiopian Airlines.

KQ’s market share has shrunk tremendously within a short period, further threatened by the massive aviation investments undertaken by neighbours Tanzania and Rwanda.

The airline was privatised more than 20 years ago but has continued to sink in debt, reporting losses in billions annually in a near-predictable fashion.

The decision to acquire Kenya Airways is welcome as the consolidation of the aviation assets will give the airline competitive advantage. As Members of Parliament debate the National Aviation Management Bill, 2020, the prime focus must be on how to turn the airline to profitability, meaning more jobs.

We must, therefore, underscore the importance of having a single company that runs air transport assets — including the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, and fuelling operations.

The new Kenya Airways management must also be flexible in its commercial dealings and most importantly, take advantage of the untapped connectivity of African capitals to grow more routes, including Asia.

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