Kenya’s President Claims Private Flight Cost Less Than National Carrier

Kenyan President William Ruto faced backlash after claiming the private jet used for his recent U.S. trip was cheaper than flying on the national carrier, Kenya Airways, though he did not disclose the actual costs. Political analyst Herman Manyora told the BBC the publicly known facts don’t seem to support Ruto’s assertion. Opposition leader Eugene Wamalwa dubbed the president’s remarks “unpatriotic”, saying he should have instead promoted Kenya Airways.

During the three-day state visit, the first by an African leader to the U.S. in over 15 years, Kenya secured multi-billion dollar investment deals and was designated a major U.S. ally. However, Ruto’s use of a luxury private jet sparked criticism. He defended it, stating the cost was lower than using Kenya Airways in line with his push for fiscal prudence.

Kenya Airways dismissed a purported statement claiming commercial flights would have been cheaper. Many Kenyans criticized using a foreign airline over the national carrier. Analysts said Ruto should have explained the potential benefits of a chartered plane like flexibility and security to justify the perceived higher expense.

Local media reported commercial business class tickets for Ruto’s 30-member delegation would have cost around $300,000 versus an estimated $1.5 million for the private Dubai jet used. But Ruto told Voice of America the reported costs were “completely exaggerated” without providing figures.

The row emerged amid concerns over lavish spending after tax hikes citing the need for more state funds. Ruto has made over 50 foreign trips since becoming president in 2022, which the government defends as necessary despite directives to cut spending.