General Manager East Africa Jimmy Kibati says this is however dependent on when airline gets regulatory approvals especially the Air Service Licence (ASL) from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA).
“If you were to ask me, I would like to start like yesterday. But you know it’s a very engaging process because if you look at the set up structure, one needs to get the planes; we need to hire the employees, pilots and we need to get some licences checked off. Give or take, if you were to give me an approval today, I will be flying by June,” Kibati said during an interview with Capital FM Business.
The airline which applied for the ASL in August 25, 2014 hoped to start operations in December last year, but has delayed after the approval was deferred in October through a gazette notice.
This is after a number of local airlines including Kenya Airways (KQ) lodged a formal objection in terms of Licensing of Air Service Regulations, 2009, signalling rising competition in the low carrier airline business.
Kibati is however optimistic that the process will be complete this year for operations to begin “as soon as possible.”
“As per Air Service Licensing (ASL) regulation, all formal applications are gazetted and any Kenyan public organisation, individual or otherwise is provided an opportunity to object in writing at least one month before the public hearing,” Kibati says.
To comply with local airline ownership rules in Kenya, 51 percent of the equity of Fastjet Kenya should be held by a Kenyan national.
The Kenya ASL application process also required Fastjet Kenya to formally submit a detailed business plan including its proposed operation, network, aircraft specification, operational plan and commercial strategy.
“In general, in a very quick process, it should take a very short time; two to three months. The KCAA board decides after vetting all the applications and check the ones which meet the criteria. And apart from the criteria, they also vet the capability of being a genuine legal entity that fit to operate in Kenya,” he says.
The budget carrier plans to employ up to 80 employees at the initial stage which is within a period of year from initiation. Kibati says this will include pilots, cabin crew and managers, with other positions being outsourced.
“Apart from flying within Kenya, our other key market is the East African market; Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and South Sudan. Going beyond, we are also looking at Zambia and South Africa which is a bit of a longer stretch for us because we are want markets that are not longer than three hours of travel,” he explained.
Fastjet kicked off its operations in Tanzania two years ago and it is also in the process of seeking separate approvals to fly into Kenya under the Bilateral Air Service Agreements.