Aviation schools petition state in post Covid recovery plan

The want waivers and harmonization of landing and parking fees

In Summary

•Training institutions have also requested, as a stimulus, their rents with Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) be reduced by 50 per cent with effect from January 1, 2020.

•Africa's aviation industry stands to lose an estimated $8.103 billion for the year 2020 on Covid-19 pandemic impact.

Operations at Wilson Airport/
Operations at Wilson Airport/
Image: FILE

Flying schools Aviation in the country are pushing for various reforms to cushion them against the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

This is in the wake of dwindling revenues in the aviation sector where  Africa stands to lose up to $8.1 billion (about Sh898.4 billion ) in revenues this year, according to the African Airlines Association (AFRAA).

Under the auspice of the Association of African Aviation Training Organisations – Kenya Chapter (AATO – KE), the schools have requested that their rents with Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) be reduced by 50 per cent come January 1.

They also want landing and parking fees charged by the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) harmonised into an annual fee, as opposed to the current system where the charges are staggered on different levels of operations and aircraft activities.

Currently, large aircraft part with an average $25(2,772) as daily parking charged at airports while landing at a facility such as the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport costs at least $580 (Sh64,327 ) during the day and an average $700 (Sh77,647) at night.

Small aircrafts park at an average $15 (Sh1,663) per day while it costs them between $220 (Sh24,400) and $265(Sh29,391) to land, depending on the time of the day or night.

“May we have one annual fee covering all KAA airfields in the place of the current complex and tedious system,” AATO – KE says in a petition presented to transport PS Solomon Kitungu.

According to the association's' chairman, Captain Joseph Ririani, KAA charges should also be a duplicate of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) formula which make it easy to comply.

Our navigation fees fixed at 50,000 are collected once annually at renewal of our certificates of airworthiness of each aircraft. This makes it very user friendly,” reads the petition in part, with AATO-KE insisting that the aviation sector has negatively been impacted by the Covid-19. 

AATO, Kenya Chapter is an umbrella body for all accredited aviation training institutions and schools.

The trainers have since sought the intervention of the PS over what they term “messy” operation by KAA regarding the authority’s collection of landing and parking fees.

“Due to the chaotic financial mess of KAA collecting landing and parking fees in the past, we pray that our arrears be written off or reviewed in the spirit of the ‘one annual fee,” the aviators say.

During the onset of the Covid-19, which saw both international and domestic flights stopped, KAA had sought the blessings of the transport ministry to exempt local airlines, including Kenya Airways,  from paying landing and parking.

In the petition seen by the Star, Ririani says the country needs a strategic move to support the aviation sector, a key contributor to the country’s “economic and social development.”

He noted that the first casualties of Covid-19 in the aviation sector were the workers, who either had to contend with a salary cut, being sent on unpaid leave or sacked as companies sought to conserve cash in the wake of a pandemic.

National carrier Kenya Airways pilots and crew have been among the biggest casualties in the sector since the pandemic hit the country in March.

Meanwhile, AATO – KE has called on stakeholders and the government to extend credit facilities to aviation schools to guarantee revival of operations and build on resilience.

“The availability of liquidity is the main issue to be addressed for aviation training organisations to survive and restart their operations. Without it, training schools can simply not survive this pandemic long enough to restart their operations,” Ririani said.

He has further urged the government to consider a bailout and stimulus package that compensates for the significant losses, reduces the burden of ongoing operating costs, and subsidizes the sector’s survival and recovery.

He at the same time called upon international financial institutions and development partners to support their organisations to help ensure availability of much-needed credit and liquidity.

AATO–KE is putting in place a recovery plan for the sector that defines a framework of various areas of intervention measures to be taken as part of urgent, immediate, and consistent actions for the survival and rebound of the sector.

The International Air Travel Association (IATA) has since March been warning of a dire consequence for the sector if respective governments will not move in to support their national carriers through financial bailouts.