KENYA’S AIRSPACE GETS CROWDED AS ANOTHER LCC COMMENCES FLIGHTS
(Posted 22nd August 2014)
SouthEast Airlines, an apparent affiliate to African Express Airways, is set to launch flights between Nairobi and Mombasa this Friday, entering an already crowded market where the new kid on the block competes with national airline Kenya Airways, low cost carrier Jambojet, a fully owned subsidiary of KQ and Fly540.
The launch comes at a time when international tourist traffic continues to remain disappointingly low and airlines operating on the route rely on local and regional traffic in need to get to Kenya’s main Indian Ocean port city.
SoutEast will reportedly start up with just one aircraft, operating a morning and late afternoon flight out of Nairobi and one way tickets will reportedly sell at 4.950 Kenya Shillings. Comments were coming in thick and fast while making enquiries about the aircraft type the new airline will use, offering observations and raising questions: ‘Jambojet is still battling for passengers and has to use special offers on a regular basis. Their bottom fare is 2.950/- KShs so I don’t see how a new airline can gain market share when their fares are a lot higher. This new airline may have fares a bit lower than Fly540 or Kenya Airways but then, they are unknown and passengers have learned lessons when they had flights booked with Jetlink and that airline suddenly folded. It will be hard, just the same like those guys flying to Kisumu. You begin to wonder what business plan such upstarts have, if any or if the owners cook with different water?‘ said one regular commentator while another added his view: ‘This will be a merry go round. Just wait until Fastjet gets their licence and takes on Fly540 and Jambojet. Fastjet has shown in Tanzania how it is done when they took down Precision from the top to become market leader. Here in Kenya startup airlines need deep pockets and more than one aircraft. And those aircraft should be new and not old. I wonder what criteria KCAA uses at times to licence an airline, do they look at the viability, aircraft type, do they insist on new jets or are they just interested in the fees they collect? I bet ground handlers will be wary also, and so will fuel suppliers, demanding cash upfront for services. It will make the start very hard because right now passenger numbers between Nairobi and Mombasa are not growing’.
The airline’s website http://www.southeast-airlines.com/ speaks of using either a Bombardier CRJ200 50 seater all economy aircraft but also mentions an aged DC9-32, a fuel guzzler par excellence which will make for high operating cost.
Happy landings nevertheless to crews and passengers as readers will no doubt watch this space to get more breaking and regular news from Eastern Africa’s aviation scene.