Kenya Airways is reportedly in an advanced stage of planning for the formation of a new low-cost subsidiary that will help it compete with the growing number of airlines entering the domestic and international markets in East Africa. The carrier is currently tight-lipped on the operational plans for the start-up but it has already emerged that the brand name ‘Jambo Jet’ has been registered for the venture.
Kenya Airways is one of the fastest growing airlines in the region, but is facing greater pressure in the domestic market and to key regional international markets from independent competitors. The expansion of Fly540 in Kenya from November 2006 has seen the low-cost carrier generate a sizeable share of the market and it now operates 132 weekly flights to 15 destinations; in it’s almost five years of operation it has secured a 21.7 per cent share of the domestic Kenyan market.
‘Jambo Jet’ is likely to target the main traffic routes within Kenya linking Nairobi with Kisumu, Eldoret and the Coastal town of Malindi, potentially replacing the national carrier on these services. It is also likely to operate between Nairobi and Mombasa, the largest domestic market, where it is most likely to fly alongside its parent, due to the large amount of connecting traffic on the route. The airline will not be limited to the domestic market though, according to sources, and could play a lead role in enhancing air services to developing markets such as South Sudan and Uganda, where regional trade is growing.