As mentioned in the last Aero-News, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) is contemplating a hike in fees for its regulatory services. Details have emerged as a draft document is making its way through the aviation community at Wilson Airport. In its report, KCAA points out that current fees and charges for regulatory services were last reviewed in 1998 and that present revenue earnings are Shs 125 million per year compared to a self-cost of Shs 360 million per year. The document further points out that “the deficit is funded using revenue earned in the provision of “Air Navigation Services.”
This begs several questions. Why have costs of regulatory services almost tripled in the past ten years? Aside from normal inflation, the answer probably lies in the fact that with the introduction of the KCARS (Kenya Civil Aviation Regulations), the KCAA has created a monster mechanism that over regulates aviation and requires an army of new staff (inspectors, bureaucrats, secretaries, clerks) to implement the new regulatory system. It was entirely self-inflicted, and the innocent stakeholders are now expected to pay for the 600+ staff who vainly tries to enforce compliance of the micro-control systems that they have created. Second, if the regulatory services are in a deficit and must be subsidized with income from Air Navigation Services, then it is not too far-fetched to assume that Air Navigation Services are in a surplus situation. It would be nice to know how large this surplus is. Stakeholders’ comments will, apparently, soon be invited at a workshop yet to be scheduled, and it is already clear that the air operators will expect to see the audited accounts of the KCAA for the last few years. KCAA operates on a cost recovery basis and this implies that costs must be justified. How did costs increase by so much?
Just a glimpse of the proposed new regulatory fees indicates not only substantial fee hikes for types of services provided in the past, but KCAA has also invented new fees (not charged before) to increase its income. For example, KCAA proposes to introduce a new Flight Safety Charge of US$2 per passenger on international flights and Shs 50 on domestic flights. With such collection of new types of taxes, KCAA again falls into the same trap that so many other Kenyan government departments have fallen: collection of little fees that require lots of paperwork (receipts) and an army of collectors to bring the money into the coffers. Stakeholders have warned repeatedly that it is better to collect “one ‘commuted’ annual fee per aircraft” rather than a little fee for each service.
Some samples: annual fees for licenses are all being virtually doubled. For example, a student pilot’s license will go up from Shs 500 to Shs 1,000; a CPL from 2,700 to 4,500; a type rating from 900 to 2,000. You get the picture, but here is more: costs of sitting examinations are being tripled: In the PPL, air law went up from 500 Shs to 1,500, navigation from 500 Shs to 1,500, etc. All CPL subjects are proposed to go up from 1,100 Shs to 3,000.
Ethnic discrimination still remains a feature in conversions of CPLs. Foreigners pay Shs 16,000 for writing a conversion paper of their foreign CPL, while Kenyans pay only Shs 10,000. For an ATPL conversion, the ethnic discrimination is even more blatant: foreigners pay Shs 32,000 while Kenyans pay Shs 16,000. Similar imbalances between foreigners and Kenyans are to be put in place for flight dispatchers, operations managers, ground instructors, etc., for reasons not known. Are exams written by foreigners more time-consuming for KCAA to mark? In Europe, Canada, or the USA, government officials would be prosecuted for such blatant racism. Perhaps KCAA needs to be reminded that ICAO says that all aviation fees and charges must be the same for everybody, foreign or indigenous. This issue is hot and is sure to feature prominently at the KCAA-Stakeholder Workshop, because also in Kenya, such ethnic discrimination is illegal and must be stopped. Kenyans don’t like it when they are discriminated against overseas but neither do foreigners when the same happens to them in Kenya.
An astronomical increase is being proposed for examiner fees for flight tests: a PPL candidate used to pay Shs 2,000 and may soon be expected to pay Shs 15,000. A CPL or ATPL candidate will be particularly hard hit as their fees for a flight test will go up from Shs 3,000 to 30,000. This tenfold increase is sure to result in an increase in the number of flight test examiners in Kenya who, on a good day, will make more than airline pilots.
A most puzzling proposal is the increase in the cost of certificates of registration for gliders. A C of R for a glider will now cost Shs 6,000, up from 2,700. There are about five gliders flying in Kenya. Of course, C of Rs for helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft will also experience hefty (100 percent) increases. Newly-invented fees include a C of R cancellation at a cost of Shs 10,000. A copy of the Civil Aircraft Register will now cost Shs 3,000. Certificates of Airworthiness will all be increased by 60-70 percent as will C of A renewals.
There are dozens and dozens of new categories of proposed fees, as some KCAA accountants were highly ingenious in charging for every conceivable service. Literally, every time KCAA will write a letter, there will be a fee attached to it, so brace yourselves. As warned many times over the past ten years, aviation in Kenya is under threat more than ever, simply by high costs and hassle caused by the authorities. The Stakeholders Workshop on these proposed fees and charges will be a must for all those who still try to operate aircraft in Kenya. Fortunately, the KCAA (Amendment) Act of 2002 states that any changes in user fees require not only the consent of the minister, but also need consultation with the customers. Also, both IATA and ICAO discourage unilateral imposition of aviation fees. So, not all is lost yet. We will keep you advised and tell you when your presence is required at the planned Stakeholder/KCAA Workshop. (Story from Harro Trempenau’s Aero Club of East Africa newsletter)