Jambojet says delay in airport expansion slowing airline growth
03 July 2015, 11:04
Mombasa - Budget airline, Jambojet has said that delay in expansion of Lamu and Ukunda airports is slowing down its growth.
Jambojet CEO, Willem Hondius said that expansion of the two airports in the coastal region should be fast-tracked as delays are hurting the airline's business.
“We are finding it hard to cope with rising traffic especially on the Ukunda route as a result of slow pace of expansion of Ukunda Airport owing to procurement delays,” he added.
Addressing tourism stakeholders in Kwale during the official opening of Jambojet office at Diani, presided over by Governor Salim Mvurya, Hondius said that delay in awarding of tenders is the reason behind stalled construction work at the airport.
“We have been in touch with Kenya Airports Authority over the matter but with little progress,” said Hondius.
He said they will continue discussing the matter with KAA so that the necessary infrastructure is put in place to support tourism in Kwale County.
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Delayed runway expansion at Manda Airstrip in Lamu has also constrained Jambojet's growth on that route despite traffic nearly doubling.
“Construction of the two-kilometer runway started way back in 2011 and is yet to be completed. This is holding us back from increasing our capacity on the route,” said Hondius.
Jambojet launched flights to Ukunda, Lamu and Malindi in March this year.
It flies to seven destinations, the rest being Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret.
According to Hondius, traffic on the Ukunda route had grown three-fold over the last one year as a result of cheaper fares by Jambojet.
“Available data shows that the number of passengers flying on the Ukunda route nearly tripled in May compared to May last year. This can only be attributed to the entry of Jambojet on this busy route,” he added.
As a result of having a short turning point at the Ukunda airstrip, he added, Jambojet is forced to carry one-third less passengers on its Bombardier aircraft.
Extension of the turning point was meant to be a stop-gap measure pending expansion of the runway from the current 1.1 kilometers to 1.6 kilometers.
He said that the Ukunda route is critical to Jambojet expansion strategy as it serves Kenya’s Diani and South Coast region, one of the country’s major tourism hubs.
“Kwale County also has rich potential in mining and agriculture. With investors flocking the County in search of opportunities, we hope to tap the growing demand for affordable and reliable air travel to grow passenger numbers,” he noted.
Since it launched its operations in April 2014, Jambojet has flown over 500 000 passengers to various destinations in Kenya.
Governor Salim Mvurya welcomed the move by Jambojet to open its office in Diani saying it will spur tourism in the area.
“This event comes at the right time when Diani Beach has been voted best in Africa and the UK government has lifted the travel advisory,” he said.
Others in attendance were Tourism executive Adan Sheikh, Jacaranda Indian Ocean general manager Ann Safari, Diani Rep Titus Kangangi and county assembly members.
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