Grounded Jetlink seeks to retain traffic rights

JETLINK – READY FOR A COMEBACK OR KEEPING UP APPEARANCES?

(Posted 12th November 2013)

A notice in the Kenya Gazette, the official government newpaper in which all legally required public notices are published, has raised speculation over the future of Jetlink once again. The airline has initially halted operations a year ago when falling foul of the Central Bank of South Sudan’s rogue behaviour of not permitting ticket sales proceeds to be repatriated, before creditors – after a period of patient waiting – then went to court demanding first for their payments with one creditor in particular even seeking a winding up of the company.

With over 2.5 million US Dollars tied up in South Sudan, a source close to Jetlink during a recent visit to Nairobi said on condition of anonymity: ‘Jetlink is not broke in the conventional sense, they are just not able to get their hands on a very big amount of money. If South Sudan would release those funds, and we are all wondering what motive a supposedly friendly country who is begging us Kenyans for membership in the EAC, all would be well and Jetlink could settle their dues and gradually resume operations’.

The gazette notice published last weekend has now confirmed that the dream of returning to the skies over Kenya and Eastern Africa is still alive with the owners, Captains Elly Aluvale and Kiran Patel, and that although talks with FastJet earlier this year have not yielded any results, the two have not given up hope that they will eventually resume operations, either under their own banner or in partnership with a potential investor.

Most creditors have accepted a swap of debts for equity to the tune of eventually holding 51 percent of the shares, but Finejet, an aviation fuel supplier, turned out to be the proverbial spoiler for that relaunch party as they insisted their winding up petition be granted, prompting some observers to suggest they have an agenda of their own beyond just recovering their outstanding dues.

The application Jetlink has filed seems aimed to keep alive their air services license – though their Air Operator Certification has lapsed and will have to be renewed in a full process of auditing by the KCAA ahead of a potential restart of operations – and covers domestic flights from Nairobi to such destinations like Malindi, Mombasa, Eldoret, Kisumu but also to such tourist hotspots like Lamu, Ukunda and the Masai Mara for both scheduled and non scheduled flights, including the uplift of underfloor cargo.

With both owners aviation veterans in Kenya, the odds are even when it comes to taking bets if Jetlink will resume flights in 2014 or else remain grounded and then be subject to court orders in regard to sale of assets, but as the earlier quoted source in Nairobi said, that remains to be seen.

Meanwhile are aviation pundits divided on the outcome of the application as well as the airline’s ability to return to the skies, as most of their parked aircraft will require maintenance to retain or restore airworthiness, as many maintenance intervals either depend on hours flown or else time elapsed since the last mandatory A, B or C check.

Watch this space for breaking and regular news from Eastern Africa’s vibrant aviation scene.

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