JETLINK SET TO DISCUSS FUTURE COOPERATION WITH FASTJET’S UK EXECUTIVES
It was learned yesterday through a regular aviation source in Nairobi, that Jetlink’s principal owners Captains Elly Aluvale and Kiran Patel will be meeting executives from Fastjet’s UK offices next week, to discuss the recently signed Mou and the way forward, which would allow FastJet – against all odds considering their present predicament and embroilment in a flood of legal issues with erstwhile ‘friends and partners’ Fly540 – to start operations in Kenya.
Only yesterday did news become available of FastJet in the UK raising a further 4 million UK Pounds from shareholders and through other financial arrangements, though it was unclear if that money was to provide for the potential liability of claims by Fly540 amounting to nearly 8 million US Dollars, or may be used to inject further operating capital into FastJet in Tanzania, which according to other reports filed here and elsewhere is under severe pressure by TCAA to pay both current and legacy debts.
The talks in Nairobi however could also mean that the extra funding raised may perhaps be used to start in earnest in Kenya at last, where Jetlink had to halt operations a few months ago over funds kept hostage by the South Sudan government which prevented the transfer of ticket sales worth over 2 million US Dollars to Jetlink’s Nairobi banks.
FastJet’s circumstances – some say caused by lax if not lazy executives failing to carry out due diligence when entering into the initial talks with Fly540 and then in reflecting their then dominant financial power in the respective subsequent agreements with Fly540 – have in recent weeks changed to the worse, at least in the court of public opinion and the court of aviation observers, and will leave them at best on level terms with the Jetlink team, which under the circumstances can now expect a much more equitable outcome of talks, should the two go ahead and operationalize the MoU signed a few weeks ago. It is not clear who of the East African FastJet senior staff will be part of the negotiations, considering the mess they presided over in recent weeks, when their dominos fell one by one. It is not out of question therefore that the key players will be the UK based executives led by Ed Winter, whose own confidence in his East African team’s abilities may well be shaken considerably.
In Ugandan aviation circles there is thinly concealed glee over these developments as Kayle Haywood, described by one of his former staff as an ‘aviation mercenary of epic proportions’ may now wish to have honoured his contract with Air Uganda after all, from which he walked out after not even a full year on the job. ‘His secretive behaviour in the last weeks on his job at Air Uganda is now all but explained in full’ added the source before continuing ‘we will never know what went on in his head but for sure, he knew all of Air Uganda’s top secret issues for future development and one can speculate how that knowledge is being used now. We all think his actions were despicable and a slap in the face of the people who trusted him and worked with him, they were all betrayed by someone with very questionable ethics for his profession’.
Another source then commented with information that Jetlink for some time held traffic rights between Nairobi and Entebbe but never actually did launch flights and being a weekend it could not be ascertained if these rights were still current or had lapsed. Jetlink however does hold traffic rights on Kenya’s domestic routes between Nairobi and Mombasa, Eldoret and Kisumu as well as rights to Hargeisa, Mwanza and Juba, among other destinations.
‘Patel and Aluvale are tough negotiators and they will not be giving Jetlink away for free. They have options both in Kenya and with other partnerships on the horizon so they will not be handing their life’s work to FastJet on a golden platter for sure, not the way those guys have suffered damage to their reputation over the past weeks’ added another Nairobi based regular commenter based at JKIA. Watch this space to find out emerging news next week when the talks are going underway and the eventual outcome, either resulting in Jetlink / FastJet going active or else both pursuing other options, should no agreement be reached.