Kenya Airways has signed a deal to sell tickets for its low-cost carrier through mobile phones, helping to save on extra costs that come with use of agents.
The budget carrier, JamboJet, has partnered with mobile technology firm Cellulant to enable booking and payment through M-Pesa, Airtel Money and banks such as Barclays, Standard Chartered, CfC Stanbic, NIC, Faulu, Bank of Africa, DTB, Ecobank, I&M and First Community Bank.
JamboJet tickets will go on sale from February 27.
The low-cost carrier will start operations on April 1 with one-way tickets as low as Sh2,850 to domestic destinations such as Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret. Return tickets on other commercial airlines cost up to Sh10,000 more to the same destinations.
“The mobile payment platform is part of our strategy to keep costs minimal, thus enabling us to deliver on our promise to offer customers affordable air travel,” said JamboJet’s chief executive Willem Hondius.
To maintain the low fares the airline has a leaner cost structure including distribution of tickets and outsourcing non-core functions like maintenance, ground handling and human resources.
The airline is looking to make most of its sales on the internet, where customers can book and pay using their cards or mobile money.
Mr Hondius said the market, especially the people it is trying to attract who are used to ground transport, was still wary of e-commerce forcing the airline to seek an alternative distribution channel from the internet and sales offices. Passengers can expect to pay slightly more on this platform.
“Internet will also be the cheapest channel, if you buy through the internet you will get the lowest fares we will have available,” said Mr Hondius in an earlier interview.
Airlines mainly use Global Distribution Systems (GDS) such as Amadeus and Travelport who charge a fee for every ticket, raising costs. Travel operators will also get the tickets on the internet.
Cellulant operates in 10 African countries, making it easy for JamboJet to continue with the partnership when it rolls out on routes outside Kenya in a year’s time.
The budget airline will initially launch on Kisumu, Eldoret and Mombasa routes from Nairobi.
JamboJet flights will come with fewer comforts found on international airlines and passengers could be asked to pay for extras like food and baggage.