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Media reports about Africa’s fledgling low-cost carrier (LCC) market tend to be dominated by the trials and tribulations of fastjet, the Tanzanian airline that began operations in November 2012 with the backing of EasyJet’s founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou.
After promising nothing short of a European-style low-cost revolution in Africa, fastjet’s slow progress has disappointed many. The London-headquartered company still deploys just three aircraft – one fifth of the fleet size it planned for 2014 – and cross-border expansion is proving troublesome.
Though international routes are finally being added, its share price has tanked 96% since launch as the business comes under intense regulatory pressure.
Yet across Tanzania’s northern border with Kenya, another African LCC is quietly gaining traction. Jambojet, a wholly-owned subsidiary of flag carrier Kenya Airways, began flying from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in April. The venture is headed by former KLM executive Willem Hondius, who, mindful of the problems that fastjet has encountered, is decidedly cautious when assessing progress to date...