#Kenya Business Aviation Conference – what transpired


(Posted 27th February 2018)

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The first edition of the Kenya Business Aviation Conference was recently held in Nairobi with an aim to highlight the important role of business aviation in Kenya and the East African region. The event was organized by Purple Lotus International and sponsored by KCAA with partnership from Dassault Falcon Service. The opening remarks were made by Dawit Lemma, Managing Partner, Krimson who outlined that in terms of Business Aviation, Kenya was ranked by AFBAA in 2015 as second in Africa with a total of 134 business aircraft which comprised of 11 jets and 123 turboprop powered aircraft.
South Africa was ranked as first in African business aviation with 451 aircraft and Nigeria third with 91 aircraft respectively.
He further noted that ‘while commercial aviation flies to where money is, business aviation flies to where the money will be’, referring to how business aviation is key to unlocking the gate of inaccessibility. He further challenged industry players to ensure that the perception that business aviation is for the wealthy can be dangerous for the sector’s growth and should be redefined. He referred to FAA description of business aviation as the use of any “general aviation” aircraft for a business purpose that consists of companies of all sizes that rely on many different types of aircraft, fixed-base operations and other services that support flight operations at the nation’s public airports.

On opening the conference, Nickolas Muhoya, Manager Air Transport on behalf of Gilbert Kibe, Director General KCAA outlined that the limiting factors to growth in business aviation as the high cost of global fuel prices, high cost of investment in modern aircraft, stringent certification processes, high insurance premiums and shortage in skilled manpower. He further noted that the cost of flying has been reducing in the last 20 years and indicated that competition in the airline market has increased due to growth of low cost carriers.
He further encouraged for more players into business aviation and reiterated on KCAA’s role in delivering a fair playing ground for all operators towards expanding the industry. He concluded that Wilson Airport that acts a home to the region’s business aviation with an average of 425 flights per day including tour charters and business flights.

James Boorman, Director Fred Black Insurance Brokers, presented on the aviation insurance sector in Kenya indicated that Fred Black is a specialist aviation insurance broker in Kenya established in 2004. He indicated that they serve three markets – general aviation, airline and business aviation with comprehensive insurance products for aircraft, crew and passenger liability all that are reinsured by Lloyds in the London Market. He indicated that their insurance is reinsured in in the London market due to the experience on the market in marine and aviation insurance where full cover payout requires a sound capital base.

Austin K’Osore, Commercial Banking Officer, GT Bank outlined the various forms of aviation finance products that they offer first being aircraft lease finance that includes operating lease where the bank finances the lessor to serve the lessee, assets lease where the bank finances the lessee to acquire an aircraft from a lessor, second as the asset finance where the bank finances the operator to make a full outright purchase of an aircraft where the aircraft will be registered jointly with the bank until the full repayment is made. The third product offered to operators is insurance premium, where the bank pays the full annual insurance premium then the operator repays the amount in monthly installments. He indicated that their products are used by airlines and also business aviation operators especially the asset and insurance finance products.

Githae Mwaniki, Senior Consultant, Aviation Information Consultants presented on the state of the helicopter sector in Kenya where he outlined that the sector with 13 commercial operators has experienced exponential growth in the last 5 years raising the total number of registered helicopters at 80 as of end of 2017. He noted the sector faced a key challenge of training of pilots and maintenance capabilities but with opportunities in contract services to oil and gas exploration and aircraft financing.

Other presenters included an outlook of aviation training by Christopher Kenana, East African School of Aviation and Youth Mentorship in Aviation by Mercy Makau, Young Aviators Club of Kenya.

The event was attended by aviation stakeholders from Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria and South Africa. On conclusion of the conference Dewit Lemma appreciated the support that KCAA and the Kenyan Government gave to business aviation and called for closer cooperation from the authorities, manufacturers and operators to address the challenges that business aviation faces including inaccurate perceptions, ineffective certification and high operating costs to support growth of the sector to ensure it delivers its value to the economy due to the effective connectivity it offers.