KQ Debt Woes: Govt paid out KES 2.8B of KQ’s debt in Q1 of FY 2022/23

The government paid KES 2.8B in debt guaranteed by the government on behalf of the national carrier, Kenya Airways (KQ) in the first quarter of the Financial Year 2022/23.

The payment was made following KQ’s default on a loan from the USA Export and Import (EXIM) Bank that was acquired in 2017 for the purchase of seven aircraft and one engine.

The loan, which had a tenure of 10 years up to the 2027/28 fiscal years, was guaranteed by the Exim Bank of the USA and the government of Kenya, with KES 64.1 billion ($525 million) guaranteed by the Kenyan exchequer.

The payment of KES 2.8 billion was made after the national carrier sought the government’s intervention, and the Cabinet gave approval for the government to pay the loan arrears on behalf of KQ and novate the loan balance to the government according to the Quarterly Economic and Budgetary Review released by the National Treasury on Wednesday, February 15.

The government’s action was disclosed in November last year, and it related to KQ’s default on the loan, with the lender of the loan, the Private Export Funding Corporation (PEFCO), listed as the ultimate beneficiary of the government’s guarantee.

The government’s decision to take over KQ’s debts amounts to KES 59.7 billion, as part of its rescue plan for the troubled airline.

However, this has led to an increase in the country’s annual debt service by KES 10 billion, as Treasury officials told the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last year.

The move has further aggravated Kenya’s debt repayment woes, especially amidst a weaker shilling and tightening liquidity in the global financial market, which makes it difficult for high-risk frontier economies like Kenya to get cheap financing.

As the national carrier expects to receive another KES 36.6 billion in the current financial year for the re-organization of the airline as part of its strategic investments in public enterprises, with some of it being used to repay its debts, the government continues to grapple with the implications of the decision to guarantee KQ’s debts.

This allocation brings the total amount of money injected into the national carrier to KES 63.2 billion, with an additional KES 35 billion in loans given to the airline between 2016 and 2020, bringing the total loans to about KES 98.2 billion.




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