The Kenyan government has "put in place a steering committee to spearhead the process of nationalising Kenya Airways by the end of the year," the airline's CEO Sebastian Mikosz has told journalists in Nairobi.

Mikosz explained that the move would boost the flag carrier's competitiveness, as its regional and international competitors are also owned by their respective governments and so have a financial advantage, local media reported.

As previously reported, Kenya's parliament endorsed a proposal to return the airline to public ownership in July. Under the plan, a new holding company will be created with four subsidiaries, one each to operate Kenya Airways, Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta Airport, an aviation college, and Kenya Airports Authority.

Mikosz assured that legal and policy reforms will have to be made before the government can buy out the minority owners of the airline. Kenya Airways is currently 48.9% owned by the government, while banks control 38.1%, and Air France-KLM has a 7.8% stake. The rest is owned by the public through the Nairobi Securities Exchange.

"We are currently drafting the amendments that will be passed by parliament to make the airline fully owned by the state," he said.

The chairman of the parliament’s transport committee, David Pkosing, told Reuters in late July that at least 21 months would be needed for the state to take back full control of the flag carrier.

Meanwhile, the regional LCC Jambojet has received approval from the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority to launch a route to Kigali from its Nairobi hub, the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Vincent Rague, the regional LCC's chairman, made the announcement as its sixth aircraft was unveiled, a new Dash 8-400, reportedly the first of four that are expected this year. The airline currently flies to five destinations in Kenya - Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, Malindi, Ukunda - and one regional destination, Entebbe/Kampala, Uganda, according to the ch-aviation capacities module. It also flies to Bujumbura in Burundi on behalf of Kenya Airways.