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KQ set to launch Sh3,000 fare carrier in April

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  JamboJet chief executive and managing director Willem Hondius during a past interview. Photo/Diana Ngila

JamboJet chief executive and managing director Willem Hondius during a past interview. Photo/Diana Ngila 

By WANGUI MAINA, pmaina@ke.nationmedia.com

Posted  Monday, February 17  2014 at  20:38

In Summary

  • Kenya Airways seeks to tap road users with JamboJet at affordable rates.
  • The Sh3,000 fare, which includes taxes, will help the national carrier lure travellers from road as well as ward off competition from budget operators such as Fly540.
  • JamboJet flights will come with fewer comforts found on international airlines and passengers could be asked to pay for extras like food and baggage.

Kenya Airways will launch its low-cost subsidiary JamboJet on April 1 with fares of less than Sh3,000 one-way in what is set to revolutionise air travel.

The budget airline will initially launch on Kisumu, Eldoret and Mombasa routes from Nairobi before venturing to Bujumbura, Kigali, Juba, Goma, Mwanza, Zanzibar, Kilimanjaro and Addis Ababa in year’s time.

The Sh3,000 fare, which includes taxes, will help the national carrier lure travellers from road as well as ward off competition from budget operators such as Fly540.

JamboJet flights will come with fewer comforts found on international airlines and passengers could be asked to pay for extras like food and baggage.

“It’s especially meant for people who do not fly often,” JamboJet CEO Willem Alexander Hondius told the Business Daily in an interview last week.

“We would like to be a champion of the people by making it affordable for a big group of people to travel more. We think 30 to 40 per cent will be people who have not travelled before,” added Mr Hondius whom KQ tapped in September from KLM, which owns 26 per cent of the Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed carrier.

The Sh6,000 return ticket from Nairobi to Mombasa offered by JamboJet is 65 per cent lower compared to the Sh16,530 that its parent company, KQ, charges on the route.

Rival Fly 540 charges Sh17,200 on the same route where fares on premium buses can go can go up to Sh4,000.

A growing middle class in Kenya and tourists have increased demand for air services as more and more people fly to holiday destinations at the Coast or to western in towns like Kisumu and Eldoret.

JamboJet begins selling tickets on February 27.

“Our aim is not to steal a lot of passengers from KQ, of course we will cannibalise, and we cannot avoid that. The aim of the game is to grow the pie and add new passengers on board and we are sure that it will work,” said Mr Hondius.

The low JamboJet fares will cater for basics including a single hand luggage and random seat selection.

Passengers will have to pay for refreshment on board and part with Sh500 to check in a suitcase and up to Sh860 to get a preferred select a seat.

Its leaner cost structure will see the budget airline go big on outsourcing as well lean on KQ for non-core functions like maintenance, ground handling, human resources and sales offices.

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