, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 18- The aviation industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the Kenyan economy, with many airlines making Nairobi their Africa headquarters where they base their operations to connect to other parts of the World.
However, the country has seen a number of airlines close shop in Kenya citing various commercial challenges. These include Jetlink, Gulf Air, South Africa’s low cost airline 1Time and Virgin Atlantic among others.
Jimmy Kibati, Fastjet General Manager East Africa has been in the aviation industry for over 10 years and speaks to Capital FM Business on how to venture and succeed in the airline business especially in Africa.
Have the right strategy
You need to have a proper strategy and a strategy that is very clearly focused on who your target customer is. You cannot just come, launch and start operations and start flying; copying the other ‘person’. It has to have some unique element.
If you look at what has happened previously, we have had a number of airlines that have set up, started operations, but lost the plot because they are trying to copy or compete with say the national airline. So its very critical to have the strategy right.
For you to succeed in the industry one must have the right people on board. You know you need to have experts in specific fields.
If you deploy experts in their fields; well trained people who know their act, then you are already one step ahead of others.
You must have a smart management team
You got to have a management team with people who are smart and who know what they do. They should be proper leaders who know how to guide the ship even in stormy waters.
Most of the time when you see the airlines collapsing, it is when the ship get into stormy waters and everyone becomes confused, steering it this and that way, and the ship loses guidance.
You need people who are stable and steady and know how to guide the ship during the stormy waters. I have found that to be the biggest challenge for start ups that have come around.
A proper infrastructure
You need a very good and supportive infrastructure and this is mostly from government. It is very critical. At least in Kenya there are a lot of moves to improve things like the airport infrastructure. But if you look at the East Africa as a whole, there are still challenges on this area. Apart from airports, there are issues to do with taxation where your are being hit with taxes like you are the most lucrative industry.
These are some of the things and investor need to put down and see how to deal with them before getting into the business. It is very key to your success.
Fastjet which kicked off operations in Tanzania two years ago, hopes to come to Kenya in June this year.