For the third consecutive day thousands of JamboJet passengers continued to experience delays and cancellation of their flights to various Coast holiday destinations.
Yesterday, Jambojet attributed the delays to technical problems on its existing fleet and delayed arrival of a leased airline to handle the higher passenger numbers during the Christmas season.
“We had unexpected challenges with our Q400 fleet that operates most of the coastal route,” said Jambojet in a statement.
“Additionally, the delivery of our newly leased aircraft initially scheduled for introduction during the peak season was delayed and will only be delivered in early 2017.”
Players in the tourism industry slammed the airline management for the mess which saw thousands of domestic and international holidaymakers stranded at various airports.
Kenya Coast Tourism Association (KCTA) chairman Mohammed Hersi said the situation had dampened the high expectation of hoteliers during this festive seasons.
He wondered why the domestic airline, owned by cash-strapped Kenya Airways, had resorted to overbooking passengers, beyond its capacity, hence inconveniencing them.
“ I hope you know how much damage you are doing to domestic tourism that we fought so hard to build over the last 10 years… We have 30,000 plus beds to fill, we have 100,000 Kenyans who earn both directly and indirectly from tourism at the Kenya Coast,” he said.
Mr Hersi said many Kenyans and foreigners who had also planned to fly out of the country for their holidays were affected by the delays and cancellations of flights.
“I am sorry that is totally unacceptable, if it was a one-off [event] we would understand, these things do happen. But it is now becoming more of the rule than an exception,” added Mr Hersi.
The situation has affected businesses in South Coast tourist resort areas of Diani and Ukunda and North Coast areas from Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu.
Mr Hersi questioned why JamboJet had booked passengers heading to Ukunda on a bigger aircraft that could land at Ukunda airstrip before diverting the plane to Moi International Airport, Mombasa.
“Why would you sell more tickets than you can handle then take a bigger aircraft that cannot land in Ukunda.
Passengers heading to Ukunda chose a direct flight to avoid the pain at the ferry and you go ahead to subject them to the same pain again without any qualms,” stated the KCTA chairman.
He added: “Why don’t you just sell what you can handle instead of giving a false promise of landing in Ukunda or Malindi only to land in Mombasa? In business that is deception and it creates a terrible negative vibe besides some passengers may opt to sue you. Please we want you to focus on flying rather than fighting cases.”
He said he witnessed the plight of many stranded passengers at Malindi Airport, among them hundreds of Muslims from around the world who were flying to attend this year’s Lamu Maulid festival.
“Malindi/Watamu which was already in deep trouble is facing more trouble since willing guests cannot find their way to these beautiful resorts. I was in Malindi two days ago and I saw it for myself, cancellation because would be guests could not fly in,” added Mr Hersi.
Two months ago, JamboJet announced additional flights to all destinations within the country including Lamu ahead of the festive season.
Jambojet chief executive officer, Willem Hondius said: “We are cognisant of the increased demand for flights during the festive season as people go on holiday or travel back home. We want to ensure that we provide our customers with value for money, greater choice as well as flexibility with the additional frequencies.”