Earlier today an African low-cost carrier confirmed that after a cat-and-mouse game played by the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), the airline was finally granted an Air Service License (ASL).
This will now set the ball rolling for a countdown towards flight readiness, as a source close to Fastjet PLC confirmed to this correspondent a few hours ago. “Now that Fastjet has an ASL they can start their work to set up the airline in Kenya. That means open offices, recruit staff, and start the process to get their AOC. They will have to bring in at least one aircraft or maybe to for the startup and register it in Kenya. KCAA will conduct an audit on their operating manuals, procedures, maintenance arrangements, accountable managers, etc. and normally that can take at least three months or more.”
Ed Winter, CEO of Fastjet PLC, was prompt to welcome the decision by the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority which had kept the application pending for an entirely unreasonable period of time: “The granting of the Kenya ASL is a major step forward in fastjet’s plans to become a truly pan-African, low-cost airline. Following recently-announced progress towards the Zambia AOC and the receipt of our AOC in Zimbabwe last week, today’s 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 recognized the important part that fastjet can play in developing Kenyan aviation, and look forward to working with them towards fastjet Kenya’s first flights.”
It could not be ascertained though when Fastjet (Tanzania) will be granted their landing rights for flights from Dar es Salaam to Nairobi, another application which the KCAA has deferred time and again under the pretext of seeking additional information, something industry insiders called “absolute rubbish” when asked to comment on the why and when of this long-pending application.
It is understood that the matter may have been raised during the farewell visit of outgoing Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete as the granting of landing rights was part of a greater deal which was struck earlier in the year between the two countries on several controversial issues affecting the tourism industry.
The arrival of Fastjet on the Kenyan aviation scene will no doubt send shivers down the spines of other, real or imagined, low-cost carriers in Kenya and have their strategists scramble to work out ways and means to stand up to the upcoming competition. Fastjet will very likely offer services from Nairobi to Mombasa, in direct competition with former partner Fly540 and FlySax and also with Jambojet, Kenya Airways’ low-cost subsidiary.
Flights into the region, once a designation has been obtained from KCAA, will very likely include Entebbe, Dar es Salaam, and even Juba, again going head on with established full service and hybrid LCCs operating on some of those routes. After Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Zambia, where an AOC is due to be issued any time, Kenya will become Fastjet PLC’s fourth African country with South Africa also still very much on the drawing boards.