KEPSA LEADS DISCUSSIONS ON RECOVERY OF THE AVIATION SECTOR AND ALLIED SECTORS

KEPSA LEADS DISCUSSIONS ON RECOVERY OF THE AVIATION SECTOR AND ALLIED SECTORS

By Samuel Migele

Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) with

support from the Kenya Airline Pilots

Association (KALPA), led discussions amongst

stakeholders in the aviation sector both in

government and private sector, to explore

initiatives to spur the economy and revamp the

aviation sector that has been adversely affected

by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The high-level stakeholder engagement is a

precursor to the National Aviation Conference

to be held in the first quarter of 2021. The

meeting brought together leaders from the

Senate, Ministry of Transport & Infrastructure,

and Kenya Airports Authority; together with

stakeholders from the aviation industry such as

Kenya Airways, the Kenya Airline Pilots

Association, and Kenya Association of Travel

Agents.

The focus of the meeting was to start a

discussion on the impact of Covid-19 on the

aviation industry and allied sectors, and come

up with proposals to mitigate the adverse effect

of the pandemic on these sectors.

In her remarks, KEPSA Deputy CEO Martha

Cheruto noted that the Covid-19 pandemic had

affected businesses globally with aviation

industry being among the worst affected

sectors. “We hope that from today’s

deliberations, we can delve specifically into how

these issues can be mitigated and what policy

and regulatory interventions can be introduced

to cushion businesses in the sector,” She said.

Ms. Cheruto added that the aviation sector

plays a key role in economic growth and

development as a logistics powerhouse, and

revenue generator for Kenya and the region due

to its linkages with various sectors.

Kenya Association of Airline Pilots General

Secretary Capt. Murithi Nyagah stated that

despite passenger travel being hit hard, cargo is

still doing well. He encouraged the government

to support local airlines and make it

competitive for them to compete with other

airlines in order to boost the economy locally

and find a balance on reciprocity on market

share when doing business with international

airlines.

“We need a strategy to be able to continue

operating and grow the business even as the

pandemic continues raging on within,” Capt.

Nyagah said. “Despite passenger travel being

hit hard, cargo is still doing well. We hoped that

Govt would support local airlines and make it

competitive for them to compete with other

airlines in order to boost our economy locally,

and find a balance on reciprocity on market

share when doing business with international

airlines,” He added.

On his part, Kenya Airways Head of Regulatory

Affairs Mr. Dalmas Okendo revealed that the

national carrier was growing steadily. He,

however, noted that Covid-19 had negatively

impacted the airline, resulting to job losses and

a drop in revenue. He also highlighted that as

travels resume, the national carrier is focusing

on the health and safety of staff and clients,

and network rationalization.

On a positive note, the CEO of Kenya Tourism

Federation Ms. Susan Ongalo, revealed that

domestic tourism has been picking up steadily

after the reopening of domestic airspace in mid-

July 2020, and a notable influx of foreign

tourists into Kenya after the resumption of

international flights. “To boost tourism, Kenya

should adopt rapid testing on-site at an

affordable rate and consider the further opening

of the skies to increase Tourism,” Ms. Ongalo

said.

The International Air Transport Association

(IATA) financial outlook that was released in

June 2020 estimates that revenues for airlines

globally could fall by 50% to $419 billion from

$838 billion in 2019. According to the report, in

Africa alone, the GDP supported by aviation

was estimated to fall by up to $35 billion with

over 3.5 million job losses estimated in August

2020. Locally, IATA estimated 223,600 jobs

were at risk with GDP losses of up to $1.8

billion.

The pandemic has grounded the airline sector

with the allied sectors like tourism and

hospitality sectors. Consequently, the broader

industry is witnessing a decline in tours and

travels as a large number of international as

well as domestic flights were cancelled all

across the globe to curb the transmission of the

virus. In response to these, participants

proposed for the industry to work together

across all the industries interlinked with

aviation.

An urgent need for a proper legislation and

policy framework, and guidelines on how to deal

with a pandemic.

Re-establish passenger confidence to spur the

tourism sector alongside sustaining ongoing

efforts to invest in the cargo business.

Enhance efforts to reopen the economy with

risk-based approaches, testing and

vaccinations.

Focus the efforts on securing key agreements

to support tourism and travel agency. Particular

effort to focus on open sky treaty, air bubble,

and interlink agreements.

The government to leverage the slowdown in

aviation operations to accelerate

complementary projects like rehabilitation of

the airports and uplifting the face of the

domestic terminal at the Jomo Kenyatta

International Airport.

There is a need for a policy to support the

pandemic response.

Deepening E-commerce and platform

development shift to reduce physical contact to

contagions of Covid-19 and ensuring faster

clearance of cargo

Broaden scope for tourism and make local

destinations affordable.

The event was graced by Hon. Senator Sylvia

Kasanga who Chairs the Senate Ad-hoc

Committee on the Covid-19 situation in Kenya.

She stated that there was a need for a

substantive legislative framework to cushion

the country during the Covid-19 pandemic. She

revealed that already the Pandemic Response

and Management Bill 2020 which attempts to

introduce a legislative framework has been

deliberated upon by the Senate, and referred to

the National Assembly where it is still

undergoing concurrence.

Senator Kasanga noted that there was a

National Aviation Management Bill 2020 before

the National Assembly, which is yet to be

forwarded to the Senate. She was emphatic

that once the Bill was presented to the Senate,

Senate would ensure that it safeguards the best

interests of the Kenya Airports Authority, Kenya

Airways and private sector aviation players.

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