Our airline startup of the week comes from Kenya. Founded in September 2013, Jambojet is not precisely a ‘startup’, but as its operations have been severely limited until quite recently, we think it counts! Based out of Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Jambojet is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kenya’s flag carrier, Kenya Airways, specializing in low-cost flights. But what else is there to know about Jambojet?
As you’ve probably heard by now, the African market is the next big thing in global commercial aviation. According to the IATA, African aviation is forecast for 5.9% year-on-year growth over the next 20 years.
With 18 of the top 20 fastest growing populations in the world, Africa is on the up, and so is its appetite for air travel. Based in East Africa, Jambojet, and its parent, Kenya Airways, are well-positioned to capitalize on the regional demand for air travel.
Alongside the Kenyan domestic market, low-cost carrier Jambojet is close to Uganda and Tanzania. Both countries have rapidly growing populations and an expanding middle class.
In fact, Jambojet already operates flights to Entebbe in Uganda. As of now, it is Jambojet’s only international destination. But, given the airline’s growth plans and the trajectory of the population in the region, it is unlikely to be the only one for long.
Jambojet’s expansion plans
In 2016, Jambojet received regulatory approval from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority to operate a number of international routes, including Addis Ababa, Dar es Salaam, Entebbe, Juba, Kigali, Mogadishu and Zanzibar.
Entebbe is the only one of these destinations Jambojet has commenced flights to so far.
But according to Jambojet’s CEO, Allan Kilavuka, the airline has plans to increase its international offering significantly.
“This year or next year, depending on the rights we get, we are working on Bujumbura, Blantyre (in Malawi), Juba, Kigali, Zanzibar, Mwanza and Kilimanjaro. There is many opportunities and this all depends on when we get the rights to fly into these countries.”
Jambojet also significantly expanded its domestic offering over the summer peak season. In August, the airline increased its seat capacity to coastal towns of Mombasa, Ukunda and Malindi.
Flight frequencies for all three of these destinations were upped to twice-daily, giving an unprecedented level of choice for Jambojet’s domestic customers.
Jambojet currently has a fleet of just six aircraft. All of them are Bombardier Dash 8-400s, each with a capacity of 78 seats.
Of these six Dash 8s, three were purchased new by Jambojet in 2017. Of the remaining three, two are leased from Elix Aviation, and one was bought from Abu Dhabi Aviation.
The carrier did, at one point, operate three Boeing 737-300s, which it leased from Kenya Airways, but they have since been returned. This year Jambojet plans to lease an additional four Dash 8s to cope with increased demand.
Talking to Business Daily Africa, Jambojet CEO, Allan Kilavuka, said,
“We are expecting four additional Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 aircraft this year as part of our fleet expansion”.
Have you flown Jambojet? Let us know about your experience in the comments.