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JamboJet gets closer to take off as first CEO appointed

JamboJet, the low-cost carrier long promised by Kenya Airways, is now a step closer to becoming a reality. The Kenya Airways Board has appointed a CEO for JamboJet.


Interestingly, JamboJet’s CEO Willem Hondius comes from Dutch carrier KLM, which has significant shareholding in Kenya Airways.

Announcing the appointment, Kenya Airways CEO Titus Naikuni, said: “Willem brings to the airline a wealth of experience in the aviation industry especially in the low-cost airline area and will be instrumental in steering the operations of the new carrier.”

Kenya Airways has been in the process of establishing JamboJet as a low-cost carrier subsidiary and the appointment of the CEO moves the airline closer to the realization of its goal. However, there is still a lot of work to be done before operations start, said Naikuni.

Before his appointment, Hondius was KLM’s General Manager for Eastern Africa based in Nairobi since 2012 as well as project manager for JamboJet Limited. Between 2005 and 2012, he was Executive Vice-President and Chief Commercial Officer of Transavia Airlines, a wholly-owned subsidiary of KLM.

JamboJet was to have launched in the last quarter of 2012, but there has been little information about it until now. In Africa, the low cost model has had mixed success. High costs of doing business in Africa affect all players, hindering the ability to compete on price alone. The costs emanate from regulatory fees (licences and permits), aircraft maintenance, airport fees, labour and taxes. There are also costs associated with using under-developed aviation infrastructure.

Kenya Airways must be aware of the challenges facing low cost carriers as it briefly operated a low cost subsidiary known as Flamingo Airlines a decade ago. Eventually, Kenya Airways re-absorbed Flamingo Airlines routes and aircraft.

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