Why Wealthy Kenyans Are Ditching Choppers

  • Helicopters belonging to politicians at Dedan Kimathi University during the 2017 Madaraka Day celebrations.
    Helicopters belonging to politicians at Dedan Kimathi University during the 2017 Madaraka Day celebrations.
    File
  • Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has announced that the number of new chopper owners shrunk significantly in 2020 signaling that wealthy individuals are now ditching helicopters.

    A report by Daily Nation on Thursday, March 4, showed that the number of newly registered planes in the 12 months ending December 31, 2020, reduced to 32 from 63 in 2019.

    KCAA Director General Gilbert Kibe further revealed that only two choppers were registered in the individual ownership category in 2020 compared to 13 in 2019.

    Kibe explained that the demand for choppers dropped due to the negative effects of Covid-19 on the economy.

    Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho poses for a photo alongside a helicopter in 2019
    Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho poses for a photo alongside a helicopter in 2019
    Instagram

    The DG further noted that some of the wealthy individuals stepped back from the helicopter industry after the world witnessed a worldwide suspension of air travel

    "Covid-19 might have delayed a few plans for people to invest in the airline business in Kenya. This is partly to blame for the drop in the number of aircraft we registered last year," stated Kibe.

    2020 was the first year the business experienced a slump after a steady rise in choppers in Kenya for the past decade.

    The country has a total of 1,525 helicopters owned by travel agencies and individuals.

    A Knight Frank report revealed that the total number of wealthy Kenyans who have a net worth of Ksh3 billion or more in the country decreased from Ksh106 to 90.

    Among the billionaires who were able to retain their billionaire status include Chris Kirubi, James Mwangi, Vimal Shah, Baloobhai Patel, James Ndegwa, Andrew Ndegwa and John Kibunga Kimani.

    Frank Knight explained that many of the billionaires lost wealth when the valuation of private companies where they hold their wealth and properties took a dip in 2020. 

    According to data at the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE), investors registered losses amounting to Ksh 220 billion between the beginning of January and December 30.

    In Africa, Kenya was a distant 4th in the number of ultra-high net-worth-individuals coming behind Nigeria (867), South Africa (742), and Egypt (583). 

    Kenyan business mogul Chris Kirubi strikes a pose.
    Kenyan business mogul Chris Kirubi strikes a pose.
    File