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Jambojet opens Ukunda office, calls for expansion of airports

Low cost carrier says stalled works constraining its growth plans

Ukunda Office 1

(L-R Jambojet CEO Willem Hondius and H.E. Salim Mvurya, Governor of Kwale County)  

July 2, 2015

Low cost airline Jambojet has called for the expansion of Lamu and Ukunda airports to be fast-tracked saying delays are hurting its business. Jambojet CEO Willem Hondius says the airline is finding it hard to cope with rising traffic especially on the Ukunda route as a result of slow pace of expansion of Ukunda Airport owing to procurement delays. “We have established that delay in awarding the tenders is the reason behind stalling of the construction work at the airport. We have been in touch with Kenya Airports Authority over the matter but with little progress,” said Hondius.

He was speaking at the official opening of Jambojet office in Diani, Ukunda today (Thursday). Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya who was the chief guest at the ceremony pledged to take up the matter with KAA. “We will discuss the issue with KAA as we continuously push to have the necessary infrastructure in place to support tourism in Kwale County,” said the governor.

Mvurya said the move by Jambojet to open an office in Diani, Ukunda will spur tourism in the county. “This (opening of Jambojet office) comes at the right time when Diani Beach has been voted best in Africa and the UK government has lifted the travel advisory,” said the governor. 

Jambojet launched flights to Ukunda in March this year together with Lamu and Malindi. It flies to seven destinations. The others are Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret. According to Hondius, traffic on the Ukunda route had grown three-fold over the last year as a result of introduction of cheaper fares by Jambojet.

“Available data shows that the number of passengers flying on the Ukunda route nearly trebled in May compared to May last year. This can only be attributed to the entry of Jambojet on this busy route,” explained the CEO.

As a result of having a short turning point at the Ukunda airstrip, he added, Jambojet is forced to carry one-third less passengers on its Bombardier aircraft. Extension of the turning point was meant as a stop-gap measure pending expansion of the runway from the current 1.1 kilometers to 1.6 kilometers. The Ukunda route is critical to Jambojet expansion strategy as it serves Kenya’s Diani and South Coast region, one of the country’s major tourism hubs.

Besides tourism, Kwale County also has rich potential in mining and agriculture. With investors flocking the county in search of opportunities, Jambojet hopes to tap the growing demand for affordable and reliable air travel to grow passenger numbers. Delayed runway expansion at Manda Airstrip in Lamu has also constrained Jambojet growth on that route despite traffic nearly doubling. “Construction of the two-kilometer runway started way back in 2011 and is yet to be completed. This is holding us back from increasing our capacity on the route,” said Hondius.

Since launching operations in April 2014, Jambojet has flown over 500,000 passengers to various destinations in Kenya. 


 

Jambojet traffic grows but airport expansion delay poses major headache

June 18, 2015

The number of passengers flying Jambojet to its coastal destinations has grown significantly with travelers taking advantage of its competitive fares. But the low cost carrier has cited delays in expansion of airports as a major constraint.

With fares less than half of those offered by competitors, Jambojet passenger numbers on the Ukunda tripled with a growth of 177% versus May 2014.

Traffic to Malindi nearly doubled (+90%) in the month of May. Traffic to Lamu also grew twenty per cent in May. The airline launched the Lamu, Malindi and Ukunda routes in April.

Jambojet however says it would have done better on its Ukunda and Lamu routes but for delays in expansion of the airport facilities. According to Jambojet CEO Willem Hondius, traffic growth to the South Coast and Lamu would have been much higher had the construction of the runways been completed earlier.

“The runway length extension in Lamu should have been ready by the end of April and the runway aircraft turning point at Ukunda Airport ought to have been ready early May,” said Hondius.

Hondius was quick to add that the airline was in touch with Kenya Airports Authority over the issue. “It appears that construction work at the Lamu Airport has been hampered by poor weather while the delay in Ukunda is due to tender processes,” he stated.

Jambojet says it has been forced to suspend some flights on the coastal routes. “Due to delays in construction works, Jambojet suspended a number of flights to both Lamu and Ukunda in May and June. This suspension will be extended to July and even August if the runways are not ready in time,” said Hondius, terming the situation unfortunate as the July-August is high tourism season.

 


 

Jambojet increases flights to Kisumu and Ukunda

Low cost carrier has chartered additional Q400 aircraft as it grows domestic footprint


April 23, 2015

Kenyan low-cost carrier Jambojet has increased flights to Kisumu and Ukunda (Diani) as it scales up operations in the domestic market.
According to the airline’s CEO Willem Hondius, the airline will now fly twice to Kisumu on Sunday and three times daily on Thursday and Friday, bringing the total number of flights to the lakeside city to sixteen per week. Jambojet will now fly twice daily to Ukunda (Diani) at the coast.

Hondius also disclosed that Jambojet has chartered an additional Bombardier Q400 aircraft to service the Kisumu and Eldoret routes. “All flights on the Kisumu and Eldoret routes will be serviced by the Q400 which we have chartered from DAC Aviation,” said Hondius.

He added, “We will introduce a second frequency to Kisumu on Sundays and a third daily frequency to Kisumu on Thursday and Friday bringing the total number of frequencies to Kisumu to sixteen per week compared to thirteen previously. As from coming Saturday (April 25), we will introduce a second daily frequency to Ukunda (Diani).”

Jambojet launched flights to Lamu, Malindi and Ukunda (Diani) last month (March 28) bringing to seven the number of destinations it flies to. The others are Nairobi, Kisumu, Eldoret and Mombasa. The airline has flown 500,000 passengers since inception a year ago.

The low-cost carrier is targeting the growing domestic travel market comprising tourists, traders, investors, government workers and employees of local and international aid agencies to cement its position in Kenya’s nascent low-cost airline market.

The Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft is capable of operating on shorter runways and performs like a jet aircraft in terms of speed and comfort. The airline operates Q400 aircraft on all its routes (Lamu, Malindi, Eldoret, Kisumu, Mombasa and Ukunda (Diani)). Jambojet also operates two Boeing 737 planes in its fleet.

 


 

Jambojet opens Eldoret office as it targets North Rift region

The agriculturally-rich North Rift region is famous for producing some of the world’s finest athletes

Eldoret Office Opening 2

(Left to right: Jackson Mandago - Governor, Uasin Gishu County, Willem Hondius - CEO Jambojet and Daniel Chemno - Deputy Governor, Uasin Gishu County)


April 29, 2015

The airline, which has grown the Kenya’s domestic market by about 30%, officially opened its Eldoret office today at a ceremony presided over by Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago. 

Jambojet launched operations one year ago is banking on the anticipated growth in passenger numbers as traders, investors, professionals, tourists and government workers seek convenient, safe and affordable travel. Jambojet CEO Willem Hondius announced that the airline is now doing non-stop flights to Eldoret. “Previously, we had stopovers in Kisumu. Our customers in Eldoret and the surrounding counties like Kericho, Trans Nzoia and West Pokot have been asking for non-stop connection to and from Nairobi,” said Hondius.

The airline flies twice daily between Eldoret and Nairobi. Fares start at Ksh 2,950 but could rise depending on how early one has booked their flight.
According to Hondius, trade between counties will be a major factor in driving the growth of the domestic aviation market, hence the decision to target the North Rift region. “Counties are inter-linked economically, socially and culturally. We are hoping to exploit such inter-linkages to further grow the market by providing a convenient and affordable travel option,” explained Hondius.

Governor Mandago hailed Jambojet for introducing affordable air travel in the region, saying it would spur trade and tourism. “We are delighted by Jambojet’s decision to introduce non-stop flights to Eldoret. This will no doubt boost economic activities not just in Uasin Gishu County but the entire North Rift region,” said Mandago.

Last week, Jambojet said it has increased flights to Kisumu and Ukunda (Diani)  to meet growing demand on those routes. The carrier launched new routes to Malindi, Lamu and Ukunda in March.

 


 

Jambojet launches flights to Lamu, Malindi and Ukunda

New routes expected to boost domestic tourism

12th March, 2015

Kenyan low cost carrier Jambojet has launched flights to three new destinations in the country’s coastal region, namely LamuMalindi and Ukunda (Diani). The first flights on the new routes will take off from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on March 28 2015.

The airline, which will commemorate one year in operation on April 1 2015, is targeting the growing domestic travel market comprising tourists, traders, investors, government workers and employees of local and international aid agencies to cement its position in Kenya’s nascent low cost airline market.

The move by Jambojet is also likely to be well-received by the tourism sector, which has been pushing domestic tourism as a recovery measure following decline in foreign guest arrivals linked to insecurity.

Jambojet fares from Nairobi to Lamu will start at Ksh 5,950 ($65); Nairobi to Malindi Ksh 4,950 ($55); Nairobi to Ukunda Ksh 4,950 ($55) all one way (including taxes). The airline will also operate short flights connecting Lamu and Malindi at Ksh 2,950 ($33).

According to Jambojet CEO Willem Hondius, the airline has chartered one Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft from DAC Aviation to service the new routes. This type of aircraft is capable of operating at shorter runways and is behaving like a jet aircraft in terms of speed and comfort.

“We have chartered this aircraft to complement our current fleet of three Boeing 737 planes which are serving the existing routes. However, the Q400 will also be utilized on Kisumu and Eldoret in order to improve the product on these two routes,” said Hondius, adding that there were plans to grow its fleet as it mulls new destinations in the East African region.

Hondius says the decision to fly to the new destination is strategic. “Lamu and Malindi are leading tourism destinations, globally acclaimed for their pristine beaches and unique cultural sites. Ukunda, also known as Diani, has an airstrip serving Kenya’s busy south coast tourism circuit. By flying to these destinations, Jambojet will be hoping to tap the anticipated increase in traffic especially to Lamu where the government plans to construct a $5 billion port,” said Hondius.

Jambojet, a subsidiary of Kenya Airways, sells tickets from as low as Ksh 2,950 one way. The airline, which currently flies to Mombasa, Nairobi, Eldoret and Kisumu says it has flown about 500,000 customers in its first year of operation, signalling huge potential for growth in the future. The airline relies heavily on online ticket sales through its portal www.jambojet.com. It has positioned itself as a provider of affordable air travel in a country with a rapidly expanding middle class and growing economy.