Chinese-backed group to set up flying school for East Africa

Kijipwa Aviation Ltd, which was recently bought by Frontiers Services Group (FSG). [PHOTO: kIJIPWA]
Nairobi; Kenya: A Chinese government-backed investment firm has announced plans to set up an aviation training centre in Nairobi.

Frontiers Services Group (FSG) East Africa says Kenyan private and commercial pilot licence holders have to go abroad for professional training, which is expensive and wasteful.

Frontiers Services Group has announced it is in negotiations with Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) to set up a modern flying and aeronautics engineering training facility at the Moi International Airport in Mombasa.

“Presently, professional Private Pilot Licence (PPL) and Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) holders have to go oversees for training which is expensive. Frontiers Services Group plans to set up a world class flying school for East Africa based in Kenya,” CEO, Mr Peter Philips, said in an interview.

Mr Smith said FSG is in discussions with KAA for leasing of space at the Moi International Airport, Mombasa, suitable for construction of a hangar for aircraft maintenance. “We are also exploring potential and cost of acquiring land from KAA suitable for commercial development of five additional hangars, potential for development of a free-zone port (an EPZ) immediately adjacent to the Southern Border of KAA Mombasa International Airport,” Mr Philips said. The firm plans to invest an initial $150 million (Sh13 billion) in air logistics business targeting oil and mining companies in the East Africa region and the Horn of Africa, the UN agencies and VIP transport among others.

Blackwater

“FSG’s vision is to invest and grow with the increasing number of multinational businesses moving into East Africa. Future expansion plans include to become Pan-Africa Air ambulance provider, VIP transport, corporate jets, air drops for equipment and materials for governments, extractive mining companies, UN humanitarian services among others,” he said.

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The firm has set up shop in Nairobi, by acquiring two Kenyan aviation firms – Kijipwa Aviation Ltd and Phoenix Aviation.

“FSG learnt from Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) that it was difficult to attract and retain Kenya certified aeronautical engineers. For this reason Kijipwa and Phoenix became attractive due to their already established commercial and technical capabilities,” Mr Philips says.

“Kijipwa was attractive due to the reputation of the founder, Mr Alan Herd, who is a leader in Kenya’s aircraft maintenance for decades, while Phoenix is recognised by UN as a leader in Air Ambulance business on the continent,” Mr Philips added.

FSG has been keen to emphasis its focus is freight and logistics, an under developed segment of air transport in the region, not passenger transport.

Although the firm would contribute to manpower development by setting up flying and aeronautical engineering facilities for the region in Nairobi, its association with former American private war contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mr Eric Prince (chairman), has generated considerable attention.

Mr Prince was founder and the most famous face of Blackwater, a private security services contractor for US government, whose activities in Iraq and Afghanistan were heavily criticised over human rights excesses. He has since left Blackwater in 2010.

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Frontiers Services Group Kenya Airports Authority Kijipwa Aviation