The apparent increment in the fares of airline tickets has caused the Government of Liberia (GOL) to commence an investigation of various airlines operating in the country, a statement from the Ministry of Transport (MOT) has said.
The probe, according to the statement, is conducted by the MOT in collaboration with the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority (LCAA), and is prompted by a complaint from an unnamed ranking government official that Kenya Airways had “abruptly” increased its air fares.
While it is not yet clear whether other airlines have similarly increased their fares, MOT is conducting an industry-wide investigation. Together with the LCAA, the Ministry says it will hold similar meeting with other carriers within the sector “to ensure equity among the air fares without interference to the market forces.”
The airline’s management has since confirmed the increase in the fare from Monrovia to Accra, Ghana “since August 2015, for technical reasons.” According to a source, Kenya Airways may be taking advantage of an apparent demand that exists locally for flights connecting to Accra, since there are only a few commercial airlines operating in the country since the end of the Ebola crisis.
But the “technical reasons” cited by Kenya Airways could range from the existing demand for Monrovia-Accra flights, to pressure from the airline’s shareholders, which include KLM, the Government of Kenya and other private investors in the company.
“Ours is a guarantee on cheap airline tickets being really cheap that has no expiry date,” the Kenya Airways’ website says.
The Ministry of Transport is known to regulate local commercial transport fares for the same reason that has prompted the investigation into the hike in commercial air fares.
An initial meeting was held on Monday, August 31, in the office of Transport Minister Angela Cassell Bush to discuss the situation, which ended with a request for the airline to provide technical data and justification for the price increase for analysis and review by government. In attendance were the Director-General of LCAA, Richelieu Williams; Kenya Airways country director Felix Wambua; and the Deputy Transport Minister, Juanita Traub-Bropleh.
The Kenya Airways country director has agreed to provide all relevant documents to the MOT to further justify reason for the increment.
According to MOT, a team of technicians and experts from the Ministry and LCAA will investigate price and other data and information from Kenya Airways to inform a deliberation on the company’s price increase.
The investigation, the statement said, is expected to be concluded shortly.
The MOT has meanwhile advised the Liberian public to remain calm and assured all Liberians that both institutions will deploy the government’s capability and competence to bring the current airfare situation under control.
Kenya Airways Limited is the flag carrier of Kenya. The company was founded in 1977, after the dissolution of East African Airways. The carrier’s head office is located in Embakasi, Nairobi, with its hub at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
The airline was wholly owned by the Government of Kenya until April 1995 and was privatized in 1996, becoming the first African flag carrier to successfully do so. Kenya Airways is currently a public-private partnership. The largest shareholder is the Government of Kenya (29.8 percent), followed by KLM, which has a 26.73 percent stake in the company. The rest of the shares are held by private owners; shares are traded on the Nairobi Stock Exchange, the Dar Es Salaam Stock Exchange, and the Uganda Securities Exchange.
Kenya Airways is widely considered as one of the leading Sub-Saharan operators. As of January 2013, the carrier was ranked fourth among the top ten ones that operate in Africa by seat capacity, behind South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and Egypt Air. Kenya Airways became a full member of Sky Team in June 2010, and is also a member of the African Airlines Association since 1977. As of March 2015, the company had 3,986 employees.