Jambojet, a Kenyan-based airline has broken the record expanding footprint to Rwanda beginning with its maiden flight on the evening of Monday 25th November 2019. The Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 that jetted in at Kigali International Airport around 4pm was welcomed with water salute before further proceedings to celebrate the historic milestone.
Present at the inaugural flight to Rwanda were officials from Kenya, Rwanda, Jambojet management, partners and passengers joining for a toast to mark the great success expected to boost connectivity and, especially, trade between Rwanda and Kenya.
As he spoke to guests gathered to celebrate the milestone, Jambojet CEO, Mr. Allan Kilavuka highlighted that the successful launch of flights to Rwanda is a great milestone and beginning of Jambojet’s exciting journey to the country of thousand hills and lauded the support that made it possible.
“Today is an exciting day for us Jambojet as we celebrate our entry into this Land of Thousand Hills. We are delighted to launch our inaugural flight to Kigali and would like to sincerely thank the Government of Rwanda and Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (RCAA) to have granted us right to fly to Kigali,” he noted.
“We also thank Kenya, and Kenya Civil Aviation Authority. You have made it possible for us to achieve yet another milestone in our quest to enable more people to fly across the continent affordably and reliably,” added Kilavuka.
Jambojet is the subsidiary of Kenya Airways. It was established in April 2014, as the first low cost local airline in Kenya. Today, Jambojet has gained autonomy and has achieved more significant milestones in making flights affordable and accessible to as many people as possible.
In its five years of operation, Jambojet has flown 3 million passengers 30 percent of whom are first time flyers to various destinations locally and regionally.
Jambojet currently flies to five local destinations in Kenya from its harbor at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to: Malindi, Diani, Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret.
Regionally, Jambojet flies to Entebbe as the carrier’s first regional route launched in February 2018.
Jambojet is currently operating six aircrafts. Four of them have the capacity carrying of 78 passengers while two of them carry 82 passengers.
Jambojet will operate five weekly flights to Kigali from Monday to Friday with one hour flight.
The departure from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport will be at 14:35 and from Kigali International Airport at 16:15
The introductory fare is Ksh 11,240 approximately US$ 100 one way for Nairobi –Kigali route. The latter is a promotional fare to be reviewed on a need basis.
Low cost model
Jambojet is a regional carrier and uses a low cost model which is not conventional in the World. The idea with low cost model is to minimize operating costs, hence, it does not offer some of traditional services and amenities provided in the fare such as meals. Instead, passengers who may want to enjoy these additional services pay for them separately. This has enabled affordable air travel for all, with first time fliers accounting for about 30% of customers.
According to Kilavuka, Kigali becomes Jambojet’s second regional route and plans to commence more flights to Mogadishu in Somalia soon as the third regional route with other routes to follow.
“This is part of our expansion strategy to spread our footprint across the continent. We have the youngest fleet in Africa and one of the youngest in the world, according to the global aviation intelligence provider. We expect two more aircraft to come as we continue to expand our destinations,” he said.
Why flying to Rwanda
For many years, Rwanda has had close ties with Kenya enjoying social and political, economic ties and cultural ties.
In addition, Rwanda has increasingly become a hub for many Kenyan companies. Records from Rwanda Development Board (RDB) indicate that Kenya is one of top investors and trading partners.
In 2014 statistics reported more than 1300 Kenyan companies registered in Rwanda with direct employment about 250,000 Rwandans.
According to Kilavuka, the ease of doing business in Rwanda, the vibrancy of the economy, the conducive investment conditions also make the country a very opportune place for Jambojet to fly to, hence creating demand for travelers for both countries to Rwanda and back to Kenya.
2018 data from Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) shows that Kenyan travelers are 5th in arrivals to Rwanda, with about 65,000 Kenyans visiting Rwanda every year.
“The investment that you have made to improve airport infrastructure, and handle passenger traffic, aviation industry growing steadily in Rwanda, are becoming key enablers of economic development. As a country, you have more than ever before connected markets both regionally and internationally. We want to be part of this growth by connecting Rwanda to Kenya and vice versa,” said Kilavuka.
He expressed optimism that Jambojet entry to the market will further boost connectivity and trade flows between the two countries.
The African market has a huge opportunity to offer which we as Jambojet are keen to take advantage of.
Jambojet is eying more destinations, in South Sudan, Somalia, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Union of Comoros and Malawi and has the promise of continuing to maintain the highest safety standards as it offers convenience, reliability and affordability.
“We take safety of passengers seriously, which is why we recently in July 2019 became the only local carrier in Kenya and the only after Kenya Airways to be awarded the coveted International Air Transport Association (IATA) Operational Safety Audit certification (IOSA),” said Kilavuka.
IOSA is an internationally recognized and accepted evaluation system designed to assess the safety, operational management and control systems of an airline.
Jambojet was recently ranked top airline in Africa with the youngest fleet by global aviation intelligence provider, ch-aviation.
The airline is also the 2018 winner of the Bombardier Reliability Award for outstanding performance in dispatch reliability.
Joseph Boinett, the representative from Kenya’s Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife thanked the Government of Rwanda for allowing Jambojet to operate flights considering it a reflection of vibrant bilateral relationships.
“This is part of existing cordial relations. Jambojet flight to Rwanda is a testament that we are truly friends, brothers and sisters. With it, we will grow investment and the economy to make lives of our people better,” he said.
Enhancing regional connectivity
The Director General of Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (RCAA), Colonel Silas Udahemuka observed that Jambojet flight to Rwanda is an addition to the very established unshaken relationships between the two nations and between both aviation authorities.
“Rwanda takes air transport and aviation seriously, at the Government level, the policy is pure liberalization. Rwanda is a signatory to single African Air Transport Market, we are among the first eleven with Kenya in 2015 and we have fully implemented. It is not an accident that we open up for air transport and airlines, especially an airline for a country like Kenya,” he noted.
“An airline like Jambojet is doing the right job. This investment you are making to enhance connectivity on the continent enhances productivity and comes at a very opportune time,” emphasized Udahemuka.
Last year, local carriers in Africa were estimated to have 1.3 billion passengers and accounted for 31% of world’s total scheduled passengers according to International Civil Aviation Authority. Carriers like Jambojet are boosting intra-continental traffic paving the way for smooth relationships and further improvements in different aspects of life.