African low-cost carrier, fastjet, has been given a massive fillip in its ambitions to develop a pan-African network of flights after it was awarded an Air Service Licence (ASL) by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) this past week. The budget airline has been pushing hard for access into the East African country but had been help up in its planning by regulatory practices.
The granting of the ASL clears the way for fastjet Kenya to commence the application process for an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) which, once received, will allow the airline to operate domestic flights within Kenya. However, it will remain a long, and arduous journey before the budget airline begins flights.
Highlighting the challenges, African media have already reported that KCAA may not actually ruled on its decision to award the licence and a decision will not get made until the start of November at the earliest.
“The KCAA board will meet in the last week of this month. That is when a decision on Fastjet’s application will be made and the verdict issued in the form of a gazette notice,” Mutia Mwanzia, a spokesman for KCAA, told one newspaper.
The AOC application process will involve an in depth review of fastjet Kenya’s planned safety management system, operational manuals and structures, its senior staff, fleet, maintenance facilities and technical capability. An early stage of the process includes agreeing a timetable for the application process with KCAA.
“The granting of the Kenya ASL is a major step forward in fastjet’s plans to become a truly pan-African low-cost airline,” says Ed Winter, Chief Executive Officer, fastjet “Following recently announced progress towards the Zambia AOC and the receipt of our AOC in Zimbabwe last week, this announcement signals a very substantial acceleration in the development of the fastjet network and our future growth plans.”
“We are very pleased that the KCAA has recognised the important part that fastjet can play in developing Kenyan aviation, and look forward to working with them towards fastjet Kenya’s first flights,” he added.
Although fastjet is a long way from announcing its plans for domestic Kenyan service, it is clear from its other markets that it will seek to provide regular low-fare services between the major popular centres in the country, most likely initially linking Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport with Moi International Airport in Mombasa and perhaps also Kisumu International Airport.
OAG data shows the Kenyan domestic market returned to capacity growth in 2014 after a decline the previous year, and it is forecasted to grow to a record level this year, based on published flight schedules, with a growth of 17.0 per cent from 2.28 million departure seats in 2014 to 2.66 million this year.
The local market continues to be dominated by Kenya Airways, which through its mainline and JamboJet low-cost subsidiary, held a 59.3 per cent capacity share last year, while the Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta – Mombasa Moi route pair accounts for more than a third of all the domestic capacity with a 44.6 per cent share of last year’s total departure seats within Kenya.