With the Kenyan government having ruled out nationalising Kenya Airways (KQ, Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta) late last year, a government senator now running for the country's transportation cabinet position has outlined his plans to split the airline into several subsidiaries as part of a radical restructuring plan. Senator Kipchumba Murkomen wants to see separate passenger, charter, and cargo airlines as well as subsidiary entities looking after niche operations like drones and aerial surveying.

According to the Business Daily, Murkomen is in the running for the Roads, Transport and Public Works Cabinet Secretary role and he detailed his plans to a government vetting committee on October 19. Kenya Airways has booked up nine consecutive half-yearly losses, most recently reporting a 1H22 deficit of KES9.8 billion Kenyan shillings (USD81.5 million).

“We have to ask ourselves why KQ is in the situation it is currently," Murkomen told the committee. In April, the airline received a KES20 billion (USD173.9 million) government bailout. Via the national treasury, the Kenyan government owns 48.90% of the carrier, with banks holding onto 38% and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KL, Amsterdam Schiphol) owning 7.76%. In addition to the bailout, Kenya Airways borrowed KES11.3 billion (USD93.9 million) in the first half of the year, taking its total liabilities to KES262.2 billion (USD2.2 billion) as of June 30, 2022.

Murkomen wants to overhaul Kenya's aviation sector and airport infrastructure and that includes bringing Kenya Airways back into the black while keeping it in majority private hands. "We do not want to cross the 50% shareholding because we want KQ to remain a privately owned company,” he said. The Senator also added that the government would not be converting debts or any bailout monies into shares.

"We need to have a passenger airline, cargo airline and charter airline," he said. "We might also need KQ to have other businesses on the side like drone services and surveying services as one way of raising revenue." Neither the passenger, cargo, nor charter segments of the existing business are operating at a profit.

The vetting committee has not yet decided whether Murkomen, a lawyer, member of the Jubilee Party and former Majority leader in the Senate, has secured the cabinet position that gives him responsibility for the country's aviation sector and Kenya Airways.