Private stakeholders in the country’s aviation industry are demanding representation in the body that will be running the amalgamated sector after the nationalisation of Kenya Airways.
Appearing before the National Assembly’s Transport Committee to give their views on the pending National Aviation Management Bill, 2020, players in the sector demanded strong representation in the recommended Kenya Aviation Corporation Board, the proposed organ to run the country’s aviation industry.
The grand-positioning for the directorship came even as the legal fraternity, led by the Law Society of Kenya opposed the proposed merger of the Kenya Airways and the Kenya Airports Authority, as recommended in the nationalisation programme.
LSK argued that it would be a gross mistake to merge the two entities, given their different financial status, with KAA liquid and financially sound, boosted by assets in airports and land that are worth billions, while KQ is a perennial loss-making company.
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“History will judge you harshly if you proceed with this decision. You cannot merge a loss-making company with a profitable entity. In fact, this Bill should be returned to the drafter and shelved. I don’t know why we are even discussing it,” argued LSK President Nelson Havi.
In what looks to be an early scramble for the yet-to-be-established board, the stakeholders have separately lobbied for the expansion of the organ from the recommended four in the Bill to about nine members, taking up the majority of the membership from the government.
Those proposed to be included in the board are the Kenya Airline Pilots Association, Hotel and Restaurant Association, Aviation Medical Doctors Association, and Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA), among others.
Meanwhile, the association of pilots has also demanded that those in the apex of the national carrier’s management must have education qualification, at least of the first degree, in the aviation field.
“The one reason why Kenya Airways has been plunged into losses is that those who have been hired to its board, the highest decision-making organ, have hardly any academic grounding in the aviation field. Some have been politicians who have failed in their political careers and are handed some landing, but bringing to the table nothing in terms of how aviation industries are run,” claimed Mwenda Mubora, an executive member of the pilot’s association.
The pilots told the committee chaired by Pokot South MP David Pkosing that anyone to be appointed as the chairman of the Kenya Aviation Corporation Board must hold at least a bachelors degree in aviation management or aeronautical engineering, or at least a holder of an Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL).
They dismissed the requirement in the Bill that the chairman can have a degree in Business Administration, Finance, Audit, Law, Engineering “or any other related field”, arguing that this has been the case in the past where “wrong people” have been hired to run Kenya Airways.
The pilot’s association and the Association of Air Operators argued that the senior management positions must also be given to people with qualifications in aviation to cure the past malady.