Kenya Airways (KQ, Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta) Chairman Michael Joseph has told Bloomberg that the majority privately-owned carrier is willing to operate under a state-owned holding company.

Kenya's parliament is expected to issue alternative proposals for the loss-making airline, including partial nationalisation, after it rejected a proposal by the airline to operate Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta together with the state-owned Kenya Airports Authority last month, Joseph said.

The airline has proposed a model similar to Emirates (EK, Dubai Int'l) and Ethiopian Airlines (ET, Addis Ababa), which operate as units of state-owned holding companies. Under such a structure, it would be able to double its fleet in five years, Joseph claimed.

“We need the financial structure to enable us to do that,” he said. “It might not be cash, it might be the balance sheet, which is why the airport deal was very important for us.”

Kenya Airways' largest shareholder is the government (48.9%), while 38.1% is owned by KQ Lenders Company 2017 Ltd., run by a consortium of banks, and 7.8% by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Smaller shareholdings are held by other private owners.

However, minority shareholders opposed the nationalisation proposal at the airline’s annual general meeting in Nairobi on June 10, arguing that a similar initiative in the 1990s was unsuccessful, The Star reported. Joseph assured the shareholders that their interests would be protected, saying: "It is not our wish to nationalise the airline. If we go that way, it will be in the best interest of Kenyans. I promise you it will be different."

Kenya Airways was government-owned until 1995, when it became the first flag carrier in Africa to become private after accumulating debts due to poor management.