Let the East African air wars commence


(eTN) – Kenya Airways (KQ) confirmed earlier this week that they registered a new business name, “Jambo Jet,” generally perceived to be the national airline’s answer to increasing low-cost operations across Kenya and the wider East African region.

KQ has already locked horns with companies like Jetlink and Fly 540 over their aggressive marketing of flights from Nairobi to Mombasa, Malindi and Kisumu, and their subsequent special offers often beating the regular fares of low-cost carriers considerably on the Kenyan domestic market, albeit restricted to maybe only 1 or 2 departures out of 10 overall on the Mombasa route.

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The delivery of, in particular, Embraer E170s and E190s has allowed Kenya Airways to operate one of the most cost-effective aircraft on their domestic routes, while also throwing down the gauntlet to their competitors on the route to Juba, which – compared to a year ago – they now fly double daily instead of not at all, while at the same time also increasing their presence in key markets across the region.

Affected Kenyan airlines are reportedly talking strategy not only among each other but have also sounded out carriers from Rwanda and Uganda over how best to counter KQ’s seemingly relentless drive to increase their market share on domestic and regional routes.

Should KQ, in fact, launch their own low-cost operation for Kenya and the East African region, one thing is sure, that passengers, for the time being, will see much more competitive fares emerge on key routes with airlines adding other benefits like frequent flyer goodies, and that the fight over market shares and passengers will then not end until at least one of the other airlines will have been pushed out of the market.