Kenyan Aviation Stakeholders Wary of Intended Change of Laws

The aviation fraternity is bracing for another fight with government, when it became known that there are plans afoot to change the laws governing the sector, including legislation governing the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority. Transport minister Amos Kimunya made the announcement yesterday when addressing a workshop on aviation law, but cleverly left out any specifics in regard of changes planned to the current legislation, which incidentally was only introduced in 2002, not even 10 years ago.

Aviators are swift to point to the current set of Air Service Regulations, imposed on the industry against agreements and assurances given by the KCAA to the industry that they would not be gazette before an exhaustive process of consultations over contentious clauses has been concluded but then nevertheless went ahead anyway in a cloak and dagger ambush, which took the aviation fraternity in shock and effectively destroyed any trust the industry had at the time in the CEO of KCAA.

‘We continue to fight on many areas over the applicability of certain aspects in the regulations, in particular when general aviation and leisure flying are treated like major commercial airlines. This is not right and there are many issues on requirements which if technically not available like communications from upcountry airstrips, can end a pilot in violation of regulations. We also have issues with the fees being raised dramatically, so of course, any changes to the laws governing aviation, regulating the KCAA, are of big concern to us. Our government does not understand aviation, and few of the regulatory staff are actually having experience from the private sector to fully comprehend what they are doing, how it affects safari airlines in particular. Promises of consultations are empty if our points of view go in one ear and out of the other. That process must be honest, and in the past, when we sat down and spent hundreds of hours to present our case by case issues with the regulations, it was actually dishonest, not meant to include our view point but to tick off a box the paymasters of those processes required. We have already alerted our legal brains to this development and await to get feedback from them on a range of concerns’ said a regular aviation source this morning, having been unable to respond overnight to emailed questions.

The air transport sector in Kenya has in recent years grown in leaps and bounds, with now over 7 million passengers and over 300.000 tons of air cargo being transacted across Kenya’s airports but has suffered capacity constraints by belated efforts to expand and modernize facilities in particular at the region’s primary hub, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. While Malindi and Kisumu have seen upgrades, although the runway extension in Malindi is still pending the one in Kisumu was finally concluded, Nairobi urgently requires a second runway, taxiway and aircraft parking areas, aka apron, while a new passenger terminal too is overdue. The present main terminal is during ‘rush hour’ hopelessly overcrowded and handling equipment is jostling for space when attending to incoming aircraft. In fact, Kenya Airways’ expansion plans hinge critically on these facilities coming into place on the fast track, as ‘The Pride of Africa’ seeks to expand its fleet, frequencies and destinations, across Africa and beyond, putting the Kenya Airport Authority, and the contractors, under pressure to work around the clock in three shifts to complete the new terminal and apron spaces in good time.

Watch this space for the most up to date aviation news from Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean islands.

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