Watchdog committee asks House to stop KQ's JKIA takeover

Kenya Airport Authority (KAA) General Manager Finance Alex Gitari and Chief Executive Officer Jonny Andersen when they appeared before the National Assembly Public Investment Committee at Parliament. [Boniface Okendo/Standard]

A parliamentary committee wants MPs to block a bid by Kenya Airways (KQ) to take over the management of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

KQ wants to wrestle control of JKIA from the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA).

The Public Investment Committee (PIC) has now asked Parliament to stop further engagements between KAA and KQ, until the deal is scrutinised further.

In a report tabled yesterday by PIC Chairman Abdullswamad Nassir, the committee members say the deal is shadowy and could lead to a loss of taxpayers' money.

They say the deal is being rushed especially by the Executive.

“The committee recommends that all engagements between KAA and KQ regarding the privately initiated investment proposal on the takeover of JKIA operations should be stopped until an inquiry is concluded and the House pronounces itself on the matter,” states the report.

Obvious risks

“The proposed takeover is being rushed despite obvious risks, including concerns on its financial viability and the potential loss of jobs at KAA.”

PIC noted that it had directed the Auditor General to conduct a special audit on the proposed concession arrangement.

This is in order to ensure compliance with the law.

The committee poked holes in the proposed deal, particularly citing the irony of the takeover bid. It wondered how the cash-strapped KQ, which has perennially posted losses, could take over the operations of JKIA from the profit-making KAA.

The committee warned that taking away JKIA from KAA could ground the profitable State Corporation. This is because the airport accounts for nearly 83 per cent of KAA's revenue.

KQ allegedly owes KAA Sh3.8 billion.