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Jambojet eyes region for new growth

FINANCIAL STANDARD
By Joe Ombuor | May 3rd 2016

Low-cost airline Jambojet has revealed plans to enter the regional market after registering local success.

The airline said it has carried more than a million passengers since it started operations in April 2014.

“I cannot tell you when the regional operations will commence, but our expansion programme has already embraced the idea, in spite of strict travel regulations from the Tanzanian government,” Jambojet Managing Director and CEO Willem Hondius said.

Jambojet is a wholly owned subsidiary of struggling national airline Kenya Airways.

Speaking during the official opening of a sales office in Lamu, Mr Hondius described the local aviation industry as buoyant as security improves and low fuel prices prevail.

He, however, noted that travel advisories still cloud tourism in popular coastal destinations.

The bigger concern, he went on, was an anticipated hike in the value added tax on jet fuel, which is projected to be implemented later this year.

“Any increase in the price of jet fuel through VAT and other taxes is harmful and ought to be avoided,” said Hondius.

“Imposing taxes on operators has direct repercussions on fares and the stimulation of the general economy because people will fly less. It is advisable for the Government to explore other options of raising revenue.”

The CEO said airlines pay many other levies, contributing millions of shillings in taxes, and deserve a reprieve on fuel.

He was speaking at the opening of a Jambojet office in Lamu after traffic to the idyllic coastal town increased 70 per cent since the route was launched a year ago

“We plan to increase daily flights to Lamu from August. We shall have morning and evening flights to and from Nairobi. We have four aircraft at the moment and expect to bring in an additional one soon,” said Hondius.

Lamu County Commissioner Joseph Kanyiri said the security situation in the area had improved following greater co-ordination between security forces.

“We have not had fresh attacks since January when three people were killed and houses torched by suspected Al Shabaab militants in Kaisari village in Pandanguo,” said Mr Kanyiri. He joined Hondius in asking the United States, France and Britain to lift advisories against travel to Lamu.

Lamu Deputy Governor Eric Mugo, who represented Governor Issa Timammy at the office opening ceremony, lauded security forces’ efforts to improve Lamu’s image after the Mpeketoni attacks in 2014, when 60 people were killed, as well as following subsequent attacks.

“Gestures such as increased air transport to this destination are effective statements to terror groups that their cowardly acts are futile in our determination to forge ahead,” said Mr Mugo.

“We urge more airlines to emulate Jambojet by setting up a presence in Lamu.”

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