IT IS ALL LIES SAYS FLY 540
In yet a further escalation of the tone and intensity of the raging dispute between the erstwhile partners has Fly540 now made sweeping allegations against FastJet, telling them in all but name that they are telling lies and challenging them to check signed agreements and other documents with relevance to using licenses and permits held by Fly540. Calling it for legal reasons ‘Factual Inaccuracies’ this latest broadside between the two protagonists is having the aviation industry in Eastern Africa sit up and take notice, how the fledgling partnership could deteriorate into such a meltdown, leaving both sides now in legal court but also the court of public opinion. There chat room comments and comments made on the social media are not holding back at all in expressing views who exactly commentors feel is at fault and to blame, with the sycophants of both camps shouting on top of the cyber voices at each other, providing rich pickings for the media.
A statement seen by this correspondent, issued late this week, bluntly says: ‘Lonrho Aviation [now trading as
FastJet] cannot produce written proof that it has held the sole and exclusive rights to the Fly540 brand, and its claim to have held these rights ‘for a number of years’ is a complete falsehood. FastJet’s statement is incorrect in claiming that it acquired Five Forty Aviation through its acquisition of Lonrho Aviation (BVI) Ltd. Interested parties are invited to read FastJet’s listing document, which clearly states that it was to acquire only a 99% economic interest in Five Forty Aviation. It was never to acquire control of Five Forty Aviation. As all the conditions of the acquisition were not met, FastJet did not gain a 99% economic interest in the company. Five Forty Aviation remains majority-owned by 530 Investments Ltd. and maintains its independence from FastJet. Copies of all license agreements and returns of the Registrar of Companies in Nairobi are available on request’.
Whichever way this battle of the skies in East Africa and elsewhere will go, one thing is certain already that both companies are suffering huge PR damages and the reputations of individuals will get shredded some more, leaving all main players soiled in the court of public opinion. From reports out of Dar es Salaam it is clear that the alarm bells are ringing and phone lines are running hot, as the UK based masters of FastJet demand answers, and fast, who failed to contain this escalating saga, who overlooked the issues claimed by Fly540 as unfulfilled and who will take the fall from among the aviation mercenaries they recruited.
What is clear is that the so called due diligence which should have been carried out is clearly not worth the paper these reports were written on and the principals, who put up the money, may anytime soon reach the point where the axe will fall on those they consider most at fault, those they consider most negligent and most careless in their dealings with their erstwhile partners, before licking their wounds inflicted by an investment which seems more and more shaky now and may well end up in the bin of upstart failures the aviation world has become accustomed to.
What is also clear is that the sentiments expressed here months ago already, which drew harsh words and intimidating complaints to editors and publishers, were after all entirely correct and are now seen by many as the early writing on the wall back then of what is now unfolding.
The lessons the traveling public will draw from all that is that they will vote with their feet as they walk on the planes of Kenya Airways, Precision Air, RwandAir and Air Uganda while watching with astonishment from the sidelines as the two protagonists are flying into heavy stormy weather, not in the skies but for certain in the corridors of the courts. Watch this space as this saga will surely produce yet more juicy twists in the tail.