Monday, July 22, 2024

KQ refuse to pick Museveni from his rural town

museveniKenya: Failure by Kenya Airways ( KQ) to honour a request by Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni to have its Kampala-bound flight pick him at his rural town for the flight to Nairobi to take part in the regional Heads of State function has jolted diplomatic relations between the two States.

The situation was aggravated by the fact that Museveni was key to the meeting, with President Uhuru Kenyatta as the host.

Eventually, Museveni arrived in Nairobi for the 16th ordinary summit of the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State that was held at Nairobi’s Kenyatta International Conference Centre on February 20, on an Ethiopian Airline’s aircraft.

The decision, which KQ yesterday termed “regrettable”, has raised eyebrows given the fact that Uganda has given the airline vast rights to use its space for regional and international flights.

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But the airline, it is understood, has its own firm reasons for failing to meet the requests.

The National Assembly committee on Foreign Relations and Defence is seeking answers from the Government and management of KQ over the incident.

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The Kenyan Government and the Royal Netherlands’s KLM group have a controlling stake in KQ.

Two summoned

Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau, in whose docket the airline falls, and his Foreign Affairs counterpart Amina Mohamed, have been summoned by the Tetu MP Ndung’u Gethenji-led committee to explain circumstances under which the national carrier declined the request for a short flight.

“We are informed that KQ declined the request, compelling HE Yoweri Museveni to seek the services of Ethiopian Airline. Museveni is the senior-most Head of State from the region and for KQ to decline his request to fly him to a forum chaired by our own President is very embarrassing,” Gethenji said.

Museveni reportedly expressed to President Uhuru his frustrations over the matter, prompting the House committee to pick up the matter.

Presidents Pierre Nkurunzinza (Burundi), Paul Kagame (Rwanda) and Jakaya Kikwete (Tanzania) attended the conference.

The committee resolved on its own motion to summon CS Kamau, his team and even the management of KQ and CS Amina to establish facts about the incident.

Yesterday, KQ CEO Mbuvi Ngunze acknowledged the incident which he termed as a misunderstanding that has since been addressed.


“The incident was a misunderstanding that has since been cleared. KQ is always honoured to serve the region and Africa. As the Pride of Africa, we continuously work towards sustainability of Africa,” Mr Ngunze said.

And Kamau said he could not give any details about the incident since he is away with President Uhuru, who is attending the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan.

“Why can’t you wait I come back and you can report on the matter when I then go to face the MPs?” Kamau asked The Standard on phone yesterday.

Amina, who is also accompanying President Kenyatta, could not be reached for comment.

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho did not respond to our numerous calls and text messages.

The Ugandan President, who was at his Rwakitura home in Western Uganda, is said to have requested KQ to have one of its scheduled flights to Entebbe diverted to Mbarara Airport to pick him en route to Nairobi but was advised it wasn’t possible.

He later then unsuccessfully requested for a chartered flight, compelling him to turn to the Ethiopian airline.

Presidential jet

“We were informed that his presidential jet was undergoing some service and thus he put his request to KQ which unfortunately declined,” Gethenji added.

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