Kenya Airways (KQ) yesterday formally notified travel agents, booked passengers and the public at large that they will withdraw from the Eldoret route and that flights, come April 1, will be operated low cost subsidiary Jambojet.
This is the first confirmation of its kind, following weeks of speculation when aviation pundits predicted that the entry of Jambojet into the domestic Kenyan aviation market will reshuffle the deck of cards and lead to Kenya Airways “making space” on the routes Jambojet will fly to, namely Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret.
Beginning April 1, Jambojet will fly five times a day between Nairobi and Mombasa and there, too, is a capacity reduction by Kenya Airways on the drawing board, though it still has to be formally confirmed how many frequencies KQ will yield to its subsidiary, the same applying to Kisumu too.
Jambojet’s low early-bird fares has caused the blood to drain from competitors’ faces as the newest kid on the aviation block has since opening of the bookings on February 27 scooped up over 10,000 bookings already, leaving the competition trailing in its wake at present, while they ponder if, or rather how to match these fares. Jambojet is leasing three B737-300 from Kenya Airways, painted in their own livery and reconfigured in an all economy version, to offer the arguably cheapest fares from Nairobi to Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret, outcompeting even bus companies’ premium VIP fares, and as a result siphoning traffic away from the road and rail as they offer the swiftest and now also the cheapest way to travel across Kenya.
Questions are already being asked about the future revival of Jetlink, which has been on and off in recent months, with the main issue being how a relaunch will be affected by the fare levels Jambojet is now charging, while others are speculating over the planned entry of FastJet into the Kenyan market and how they would cope with such low fares against a competitor which has clearly got the concept right and managed to keep the cost at the lowest possible level by leasing planes, outsourcing staff and working with a lean administration and sales structure.