General Industry

Kenyan Budget Carrier Jambojet Plans To More Than Double Passengers In Three Years

By Dave Simpson
Kenyan Budget Carrier Jambojet Plans To More Than Double Passengers In Three Years

Kenya's first low-cost airline, Jambojet, plans to more than double its annual passengers to 1.5 million in the next three years by opening new routes in East Africa and flying planes more often, its chief executive has revealed.

Like budget carriers in Europe and South Africa, Jambojet passengers only pay for seats. The airline charges extra for services such as baggage and meals, allowing ticket prices to compete with buses and trains.

"People like this model, they are flying this model," Allan Kilavuka, Jambojet's CEO, told Reuters in an interview.

The airline has grown traffic by a compounded annual rate of 25%, giving it a modest return, Kilavuka said, although he declined to give figures.

Except for Ethiopian Airlines, most bigger carriers in the region are loss-making, including Kenya Airways, which parliamentarians voted to re-nationalise in July.


"We are profitable," Kilavuka said. "The margins are very thin given the costs that we have to incur, and the challenge is to maintain this profitability because the industry is volatile."

Plans Going Forward

Jambojet operates six De Havilland Q-400 planes and plans to get two more by year's end, Kilavuka said.

Jambojet flies to five destinations in Kenya and to Entebbe in neighbouring Uganda, and plans to start flights to South Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Comoros.

The carrier also wants to boost daily usage of its planes from eight hours to 10 or 13 hours, Kilavuka said, a move that would give it excess capacity.

Air travel in Africa is growing at about 6% per year, the CEO said, but from a low base.


"We need to scale up but that needs to be done responsibly so you don't overheat," he said. "[The budget carrier model] is more manageable. It is easy for you to flex and change."

News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.