(eTN) – While aviation stakeholders have been locked in a seemingly never-ending argument with the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), with a near breakdown of relations when KCAA broke a gentleman’s agreement on the implementation of hugely controversial new regulations last year, the stand offs are not about to end it seems. The general public in Kenya will be waking up today to news that KCAA is attempting to raise regulatory and other fees – but not just by making up for inflationary trends. Doubling up to quadrupling of rates is on the card for them as they are seeking government approval to “do a vampire act on us,” as one usually very candid aviation source from Nairobi put it to this correspondent.
Several aspects of the planned fee increases have been vehemently criticized, such as plans to raise fees related to pilot aspirants, with certain examination fees tripling under the proposed new regime.
The aviation industry is facing a serious challenge to find enough young pilots as it is, and fleet expansion by Kenya Airways and the ongoing brain drain to the Gulf has prompted aviation observers to question the wisdom of making pilot training more expensive, instead of making it more affordable to create a larger pool of future commercial pilots.
While it has been acknowledged that the last major fee revision was over a decade ago, in particular the general aviation sector, including the leisure flyers on weekends, can brace themselves to see an already expensive hobby become even more expensive. Needless to say, there are substantial objections to the KCAA proposals, but few expect government and KCAA to take notice of those, as they are known to brush aside submissions from the private sector and do what they want in a near unaccountable scenario, similar to the “take it or get out” attitude shown over the introduction of the last round of regulations.
The chairman of the East African Aero Club did not mince words either as he described KCAA as a “leech on an already embattled industry.”
Said one regular source: “KCAA and government cite lack of inspectors, which is true, there are not enough, but instead of pooling their resources with other EAC [East African Community] aviation regulators, they are just looking at their own fiefdom. Airworthiness inspectors and specialists should be shared amongst EAC countries, it could save considerable expense, which can translate in lower charges for flights. They also should do a thorough analysis of their internal dead wood and stop forcing the industry from requiring multiple and repetitive permits and licenses. When one has an AOC in Uganda, when one has a pilot’s license in Tanzania that should be accepted without ifs and buts here in Kenya, too, after all East Africa is now under CASSOA [Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency] and has harmonized regulations. But it shows it is all about fees and to finance a structure of national regulators, which should be merged into one body under EAC and branch offices in the member countries.”