Fastjet exits Kilimanjaro-Nairobi route

Just over a month after it set out to conquer the Kilimanjaro-Nairobi route, Fastjet airline has exited it.

The London Stock Exchange-listed airline — which also connects Nairobi and another Tanzanian city, Dar es Salaam — was hoping to use its low-cost model to outdo Kenya Airways and Precision Air which also serve those routes.

But the numbers have so far not made economic sense forcing the carrier’s Airbus A319 aircraft with the capacity to carry 156 passengers to exit Kilimanjaro-Nairobi skies, at least for now.

The airline is yet to issue official communication on its exit, but its website has already pulled down the route and only registers the Dar es Salaam-Nairobi option.

Sources say the route lacks enough passengers to fill an A319 by at least 70 per cent, which has been a challenge as Fastjet uses a single aircraft model.

Kenya Airways uses an 84-seater Embraer 190, while Precision operates an ATR, both of which are smaller than Fastjet’s offering.

Even though it is not yet clear whether the exit is permanent or not, the decision may cast doubt on the ability of the airline to break into Kenya’s domestic airline market.

The carrier has been granted an air service licence by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, giving it the go-ahead to apply for an Air Operator Certificate (AOC). It intends to use Fastjet Kenya, a separate company within Fastjet Group, to serve the local market.

The airline had also promised to launch a flight between Zanzibar and Nairobi, as well as introduce a second flight between Dar es Salaam and Nairobi.

Fastjet has registered success in Johannesburg (South Africa), Lusaka (Zambia), Entebbe (Uganda), Harare (Zimbabwe) and Lilongwe (Malawi). It is also a force to reckon with in flights operating within and from Tanzania.

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