The national career Kenya Airways is protesting a government deal allowing Ethiopian Airlines to operate passenger planes that have been grounded due to coronavirus outbreak for shipment of cargo between Jomo Kenyatta International Airport ( JKIA) in Nairobi and destinations in Europe and Asia.
KQ has said that the deal will be of advantage to the rival carrier in a period when Kenya has frozen international passenger travel leaving cargo as the only revenue stream.
The Ministry of Transport on April 6 allowed Ethiopian Airlines to vary its licence for passenger planes and use six aircraft to ferry cargo from Nairobi and Mombasa to overseas at these times when airlines are charging a premium for the service.
KQ is worried that the move will take all the businesses of shipping fresh flowers, meat and vegetables that are now scarce in Europe.
Cargo generates about Sh11 billion annually which goes into salaries and utilities like security, water and electricity.
“We have objected the move to have Ethiopian Airlines use their passenger flights for cargo business in Kenya because we were not consulted on the impact that this would have on our business,” said Mr Kilavuka.
Mr Kilavuka expressed it that Kenya Airways should have been consulted before varying Ethiopian Airlines licences, saying that JKIA is the home of the national carrier.
“Anytime you have a carrier wanting to come to your domain, you need to be consulted so that you are not disadvantaged at your main market,” he added.
The government suspended cross-border passenger flights on March 22 barring KQ’s foreign flights and the order effectively chopped off KQ’s flow of revenues at a time when the carrier is staring at dry cash reserves.
Just a week ago the government further barred movement into and out of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi counties pushing Kenya Airways to ground passenger flights and survive solely on cargo business.
The move comes when Kenya Airways is seeking multi billion-shilling bailout from the government after the grounding of its planes without which it risks running out of cash with the banks now being uneasy when it comes to lending to Africa carriers.