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Jetlink plans to fly in the big league

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 21 – Local airline Jetlink Express has disclosed that it is seeking a strategic partner that will strengthen the carrier and give it impetus to grow ahead of its listing on the Nairobi Stock Exchange (NSE) in the next few years.

Jetlink Managing Director Capt Elly Aluvale disclosed on Wednesday that they were currently in negotiations to try and get an investor who would inject equity into the firm and enable them to achieve the aspiration of floating an Initial Public Offering (IPO) which they have harboured for several years now.

“We are focused on trying to do a pre-IPO where we want to look for a strategic partner to come into Jetlink so that we can move on to the next level and thereafter we can focus on listing,” he said.

Captain Aluvale told Capital Business that they were prepared to cede about 30 percent stake to the potential shareholder to make their dream come true.

“We are talking to several parties that are very keen and when the time comes we will be able to come up with a structure that will be good for the present shareholders and those that are coming in so that we can grow the airline,” he said.

Although he remained guarded with some of the details of the talks, the MD exuded confidence that the investor would be on board in the next one year.

“Hopefully two or three years after the (2012 general) election we will then think about the IPO,” he added.

Since its inception in 2006, the airline has been performing well and was in 2008 ranked as one of the top 100 medium-sized companies in Kenya, which was a category for firms with a turnover of up to Sh1billion.

The carrier, with a vision to become a regional airline has in the past few years ventured into new destinations such as Mwanza, Khartoum and Juba.

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And following the rebirth of South Sudan as the world’s newest state, the airline is looking to cash in on the increased business that is expected in that country.

Besides increasing frequencies in the Nairobi-Juba route to meet the high demand, Captain Aluvale said they are also eyeing the Juba-Khartoum route.

It plans to spread its wings to more towns such as Kigali in Rwanda, Lilongwe, Malawi Lusaka (Zambia), Harare (Zimbabwe), Johannesburg (South African) are still alive with the Managing Director divulging that scheduled flights in some of those routes were due to commence before the end of this year.

Locally, the load factor to destinations such as Mombasa is increasing especially because this is a busy season characterised by August and December holidays.

“Business is good. Right now we have a load factor of about 80 percent which is good and I hope that as we move towards the festive month, we will be able to attract more passengers,” Mr Aluvale stated adding that they had increased the frequencies to deal with the demand.

For instance, they are now flying six times to Mombasa every day up from four frequencies in May and anticipate this could increase to eight by the end of this year.

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