Jetlink will resume operations by the end of March with the help of new investors, nearly two months after suspending services due to cash flow challenges.
The airline’s managing director Elly Alluvale told the Business Daily that the carrier is talking to potential investors to inject cash, with the hope of restarting operations before the turn of quarter one.
The carrier blamed it woes on its inability to access about $2 million (Sh170 million) worth of ticket sales held in bank accounts in South Sudan, but faced a claim of Sh440 million in unpaid leasing fees — a pointer of a deeper financial mess.
The High Court in November ordered the Kenya Civil Aviation to detain four of Jetlink’s planes pending a suit filed by a Mexican company, CRJ Company Ltd, demanding the unpaid aircraft leasing fees.
“I cannot say exactly when but we are hoping to resume business before the end of this quarter,” said Captain Alluvale in a phone interview Thursday. The carrier’s 350 employees have been on leave.
Jetlink was the first airline to start flights between Nairobi and Juba, with the route reported to be one of its most profitable.
It executed most of its sales on the route in South Sudan Pounds (SSP), which the airline has been unable to repatriate back to Kenya to support its operations.
The airline said it had been accumulating South Sudanese pounds in its accounts at Equity Bank and Kenya Commercial Bank, but the banks were unable to grant it any allocation of US dollars due to what it terms as currency and cross-border risks.
South Sudan has for the past year faced a severe foreign-exchange shortage after it stopped exporting its oil.