‘They should be sued for the damage they caused to our travel plans’ ranted a regular contributor of information from Kenya, who had been booked to travel to Lamu on Jambojet but was offloaded at Malindi’s Airport and left to fend for himself and his family.
Jambojet, one of Kenya’s low cost airlines, had over the past days, according to affected passengers, set new lows for dealing with delayed and canceled flights, in particular vis a vis response times of emails and social media queries, where, if at all, template replies appear to have been copied and pasted by Jambojet staff.
Only days after the full impact of the delays became public did the airline finally admit what aviation pundits had already established, that technical issues with one of the airline’s leased Q400’s saw the entire schedule literally fall apart, with travelers booked to the Ukunda airfield close to the Diani beaches being dumped at the main airport in Mombasa, having to make their own way to their resorts.
‘I booked my flight to Ukunda because I want to avoid the dreadful drive through Mombasa and then the agonizing wait at the ferry. Flying directly saves many hours each way and Jambojet stole those precious vacation hours from us. How can an airline just dump us in Mombasa when our ticket says Ukunda. To make it worse, where was the station manager and duty manager of the airline? This will have consequences, that is all I can tell you right now’ ranted another Nairobi based regular reader, fuming with anger.
The airline’s statement, belying the mention on their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/FlyJambojet/?fref=ts) ‘100% response rate Typically replies within a few hours’ came however days late after hundreds of passengers had unsuccessfully tried to get answers from them.
Wrote Jambojet then finally in a media release yesterday afternoon:
We, at Jambojet, have had some unexpected technical challenges on our Q400 fleet that operates most of our coastal routes. Additionally, the delivery of our newly leased aircraft initially scheduled for introduction during the peak season was delayed due to unforeseen circumstances and will only be delivered in early 2017. As a result of the combination of these factors as well as the unavailability of aircraft of the same capacity, we have had to reschedule flights and carry passengers on smaller aircraft.
This being a high season, we had anticipated the spike in traffic and had all the plans in place, however the technical hitches led to the regrettable delays and re-routing. We have endeavored to fly more frequencies with these smaller capacity aircraft and also re-route remaining passengers via Mombasa and put other passengers on Kenya Airways flights, where seats are available, to get them to their destinations.
We apologize to all concerned for the unpleasant nature of this entire experience and assure all that we are doing our utmost to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
This prompted more anger among those affected with many claiming that this was known by the airline and they should have come out days earlier informing and warning passengers. In particular was the social media team and the PR agency of the airline condemned for keeping quiet for too long and in the end being swept away by a Tsunami of outrage, anger and disgust. ‘Those who should have stood up and admitted what was going to happen, what was happening, surely enjoyed their Christmas vacation somewhere while ruining our holiday at the coast. Jambojet, never again. I read your articles religiously and now understand why you keep saying people should fly from Wilson Airport to the coast. Next time I will use Air Kenya or Safarilink even if it costs more because I had not one comment that their flights were running late or got cancelled’ added another Nairobi based reader while asking his name not to be mentioned.
Kenya Coast Tourism Association Chairman Mr. Mohammed Hersi also took to the social media yesterday in a lengthy statement condemning the inefficiencies and also the silence of Jambojet over the flight delays and cancellations and vowed to take this up with the Cabinet Secretaries for Tourism and Transport after the holidays to ensure such negative examples and service failures would not repeat itself.