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Jetlink gets new life from Fastjet partnership

Kenyan carrier Jetlink, which suspended flight operations last November, could gain a new lease of life following the announcement of an agreement with low cost carrier, Fastjet.

Fastjet announced this week that it has signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) with Jetlink. Under the terms of the MOU, Fastjet and Jetlink are working together to create a joint venture which will provide a platform for the launch of Fastjet in Kenya. The MOU is subject to a number of conditions including board and any other necessary approvals.

Fastjet has been flying in Tanzania since November 2012.

Jetlink is a Kenyan airline launched in 2004. It has traffic rights to all domestic destinations in Kenya, as well as a number of regional destinations, rights which are of interest to Fastjet as it seeks to grow in Africa.

Jetlink operations were suspended in November 2012 due to a cash flow crisis occasioned by the airline’s flights to Juba, South Sudan. The country is facing a shortage of foreign exchange after it stopped oil exports in a row with Sudan. This forced Jetlink to sell its tickets in South Sudanese Pounds, but the lack of foreign currency means that the airline cannot repatriate any money out of South Sudan, hence the crisis.

Fastjet was formed in 2012 and subsequently bought Fly540, which already has a platform of licences out of hubs in Kenya, Tanzania, Angola and Ghana. Fastjet planned to begin flights in Kenya, but had to shift to Tanzania due to unresolved legal issues with Fly540. For instance, there have been court cases over money that Fly540 owes to certain suppliers. The situation for Fly540 in Kenya has been complicated with its founder saying that sale of the airline to Fastjet is yet to be completed.

With the court cases that Fly540 is experiencing, and with Fastjet’s eagerness to start flying in Kenya, it is only natural that Fastjet would seek a new partner. Jetlink happened to be available.

Commenting on the talks with Jetlink, Fastjet Chief Executive Officer Ed Winter said: “This project represents a great opportunity for both parties and discussions are progressing well. A joint venture between Fastjet and Jetlink will facilitate the launch of the Fastjet brand in Kenya within the next few months with immediate access to domestic and regional destinations.”

Winter however still sees a role for Fly540 in Fastjet’s ambitions. “Talks are not yet finalised but we certainly envisage a combination of Jetlink’s strengths and Fastjet’s interest in Fly540 Kenya creating the optimum platform to launch the Fastjet brand in Kenya,” he added.

Speaking in Nairobi, Jetlink Chief Executive, Elly Aluvale, expressed confidence that the partnership will be “mutually beneficial and will go a long way in meeting the current demand for capacity on Kenya’s domestic and regional routes.”

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