By George Obulutsa, Duncan Miriri, Reuters
Kenya Airways has started talks with the government, seeking its help in coping with competition from foreign carriers operating flights to its Nairobi hub, its chairman said on Thursday.
The airline, part-owned by the state and Air France-KLM , is restructuring its finances to cut huge debts and reduce finance costs to help it return to profitability after years of losses.
The losses, caused by a slump in tourism due to frequent attacks in Kenya by militants from neighbouring Somalia, came at a time when the airline was taking on debt to buy new planes and as Gulf-based rivals ratcheted up competition.
"We started out these negotiations both with KAA (Kenya Airports Authority) and ourselves and the government to see how we can better protect us," Kenya Airways Chairman Michael Joseph told reporters.
"We don't want to close our airspace," he added.
Some of the foreign competitors enjoy massive state support including subsidies, Joseph said, without providing names.