New Jetlink/FastJet alliance on the horizon as Fly540 deal at verge of collapse?


Reports are emerging from Nairobi that Jetlink, a privately owned airline based in Nairobi and grounded some months ago over South Sudan’s failure to permit repatriation of funds kept in Juba’s banks from ticket sales worth over 2 million US Dollars, may be in talks with FastJet for a joint venture.

There has been ongoing speculation over FastJet’s association with Fly540 over a deal which has dragged on for months without tangible results, forcing FastJet to commence operations in Tanzania instead of the far more lucrative Kenyan market. Rumours have swept the industry for weeks now with allegations flying from the FastJet camp over unfulfilled commitments and attempts to hold them literally at ransom, leaving them frustrated and stuck in the starting blocks.

Should indeed Jetlink now become FastJet’s Kenyan partner, it could open the way to commence operations within days after substantive agreements have been signed between the two parties. Jetlink owners Capt. Elly Aluvale and Capt. Kiran Patel both enjoy a far superior reputation as serious aviators and should they opt for the FastJet joint venture it would very likely be of a sounder nature and could be relied on by FastJet, compared to their present circumstances, not that they were not warned in good time over the choices they had made. It is not clear right now if Jetlink itself would resume operations or if a new platform would be created where the two airlines could hold a still to be determined shareholding.

What would also remain to be seen is if any money which may have been paid vis a vis a Fly 540 deal for Kenya could be fully recovered, or is in fact recoverable without resorting to court action should the deal go sour, not a new prospect for Fly 540 which has been engulfed in legal cases over unpaid fuel bills and other issues in the past with some alarming regularity, including a winding up petition by creditors at one time.

Whatever the case, it might open up an interesting perspective in Kenya’s jet aviation, potentially pitting a new FastJet/Jetlink alliance against the initially chosen partner Fly 540 with cut throat competitions breaking out between the ‘friends turned foes’, which would very likely leave Kenya Airways, the dominant airline in Kenya and the region as the laughing third party, seeing bloodletting among key competitors. This, in the end, might leave one of the ‘combatants’ financially crippled – and not likely to be FastJet with their apparently endlessly deep pockets as they attempt to set up a continental network of LCC’s.

Interesting times in Kenya’s aviation industry, and in fact in the region, where this new constellation could revive the immediate prospect of the new partnership flying the regional routes much faster and in a much bigger way than initially anticipated, when FastJet failed to take off in Kenya and was confined to flying domestic in Tanzania only. Watch this space for breaking and regular aviation news from the Eastern African region.

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