The president said the expansion programme currently underway at JKIA should be completed before the August contract deadline to ensure the government does not lose money.
“This expansion will enhance the capacity of JKIA to handle increased passenger traffic. It will also strengthen Nairobi’s position as a regional transport and economic hub. However, I would like to see the expansion project move faster; any delays are costly to the country. I therefore challenge the Kenya Airports Authority to hasten the expansion of our airports,” the president said.
Kibaki, who was speaking during the launch of the Kenya Airways Rights Issue, also called for more Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) to help in the expansion of airports around the country.
“The private sector should be invited under a Public Private Partnership to fast-track the expansion of our airports. The government also remains committed to negotiating and reviewing of Bilateral Air Services Agreements to expand the air route networks available to all local carriers. This will improve connectivity between Kenya and other countries to allow flexibility in movement of both cargo and passengers,” he affirmed.
Kenya Airways launched a Sh20.7 billion Rights Issue with each share being floated at Sh14 to raise funds to increase its fleet and expand the air route network to link Nairobi to all African countries and the rest of the world.
The expansion programme will, besides improving inter-connectivity, allow flexibility in movement of both cargo and passengers.
Kenya Airways plans to double its fleet numbers from the current 34 planes to 68 through the expansion plan.
President Kibaki also affirmed that for Kenya Airways to achieve its ambitious growth plan, the national carrier needed to mobilise significant financial resources both in the form of debt and equity to invest in new planes and other facilities.
“The Rights Issue we are launching today will be East Africa’s largest Rights Issue. Kenya Airways is our national flag carrier airline. To retain this status, Kenyans have to continue to own more than 50 percent of the airline’s shares,” he said.
Saying the government and other Kenyan investors’ ownership of about 60 percent of Kenya Airways shares offers them the priority to buy 886 million of the 1,477 million shares on offer, President Kibaki emphasised that it was imperative for the Kenyan investors to take up the new shares offered to them.
The Government of Kenya and KLM have both committed to take up their full entitlement in the Rights Issue.
Addressing the same forum, Transport Minister Amos Kimunya expressed government’s commitment to implement policies geared towards the realisation of a well regulated air transport sector.