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Kenya earmarks $176m to rescue cash-strapped national airline

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Kenya Airways was one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s three major carriers, alongside Ethiopian Airlines and SAA

KENYA plans to inject KSh20bn ($176m) of capital into the country’s cash-strapped national airline, which is battling to survive after years of losses and a mounting debt pile.

The funding, detailed in supplementary budget documents submitted to parliament, ‘is dependent on certain restructuring milestones,’ Kenya Airways chair Michael Joseph said by text message on Thursday.

The capital injection emerged alongside a  report that Kenya Airways has selected financial advisers to help evaluate options to restructure its debt load, which totalled KSh92.5bn shillings at the end of 2020. The government had been planning to nationalise the airline, already 48.9 percent state owned, before abandoning the plan last month.

While many airlines about the world ran into trouble after the coronavirus pandemic hammered global travel, Kenya Airways’s financial troubles predate the crisis. The size of the government’s stake is the result of an earlier state-backed restructuring which saw some lenders swap debt for equity. Air France-KLM is a small shareholder with a 7.76 percent stake.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Kenya Airways was  one of sub-Saharan Africa’s three major carriers, alongside Ethiopian Airlines and SAA, which went into administration in 2019 and is the subject of a protracted takeover process.




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