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New Hangar And Office Block

JetLink on expansion course

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN  Feb 22, 2010

Jetlink, the privately-owned Kenyan airline, operating both domestic and regional jet services, has shown their confidence in the future of aviation in Eastern Africa last week when breaking ground for a new hangar and office block, both to be completed within about 14 months and costing nearly 200 million Kenya shillings. The airline, managed by Kenyan aviation veterans Capts. Elly Aluvale and Kiran Patel, was granted land by the Kenya Airports Authority to build their facilities adjoining to the main airport area, permitting easy access for staff to the airside, where in the future their fleet of now 7 jet aircraft can be parked and maintained.

Formed in 2004 and entirely owned by Kenyans, the airline has grown in leaps and bounds, and now operates 6 state of the art Bombardier jets, while staff numbers have now reached in excess of 300.

Jetlink has until now been operating from the same office block in a nearby industrial estate used by competitor East African Safari Air Express, with whom they partnered for some time before deciding to go their own way, while maintaining offices in the same building. Jetlink was the first airline to introduce the fuel efficient sleek Bombardier CRJs in the region and is now using these aircrafts on their domestic routes between Nairobi to Mombasa (5 times a day), Eldoret (twice a day), and Kisumu (5 times a day). They also fly twice a day between Nairobi and Juba/Southern Sudan and operate twice a week a scheduled service between Nairobi and Goma/Eastern Congo. Information at hand also suggests that the airline intends to commence flights to Mwanza and Dar es Salaam in due course, while their Juba flights may soon also extend to Khartoum, likely with full traffic rights between the two main Sudanese cities, which would give travelers added choices on this busy route.

When contacted, the airline confirmed that this major investment was an absolute necessity in order to expand the airline’s operations, fleet, and destinations and at the same time save very substantial costs, as hangar rent had become a major expense while still restricting its ability to maintain its fleet up to approved maintenance levels. Jetlink also confirmed that other airlines would be able to hire hangar space from them, creating additional revenue streams in the future rather than paying rent as is at present. The new maintenance facility will be large enough to house aircraft up to the size of a B767 and will be completed in two stages, with the final touches to be put at the end of quarter one next year.

There is speculation as to whether Jetlink may develop their maintenance facility, possibly with the assistance of Bombardier, into a regional maintenance hub for the Canadian manufacturer, but no one would be drawn into this scenario at this moment, telling this correspondent enough already and all he needs to know at this time to continue monitoring the situation and breaking the news, as and when they can be confirmed.

JetLink on expansion course
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