May 22, 2017 / 12:15 PM / 6 months ago

Kenya Airways' budget carrier plans international flights

NAIROBI, May 22 (Reuters) - Kenyan budget carrier Jambojet expects government approval this month to start flying to destinations outside the country, and will lease more planes to start the flights in the next two years, its chief executive said on Monday.

The airline, fully owned by national carrier Kenya Airways , was established in 2014 to cater to local travellers by offering low-cost fares of as little as 3,200 shillings ($30.99) one way.

Jambojet, which carried 600,000 passengers last year using a fleet of Boeing 737s and Bombardier Q-400 planes, will consider possible international destinations after it gets approval, CEO Willem Hondius said.

“We have a long list of routes we could operate,” he said, adding they could operate flights jointly with Kenya Airways or target destinations that the parent airline does not serve.

Jambojet offers no frills flights to popular destinations such as the coastal city of Mombasa. It charges for extras like drinks and food.

It started operations with leased planes but it has since started operating its own flights, a move expected to further lower costs, the chief executive said.

Hondius said leasing additional planes would also help address challenges. The carrier was forced to apologise at the start of this year following cancellations and delays during the peak December holiday season.

About a third of Jambojet’s customers had never flown before and were enticed by the low prices. Hondius said he expected more growth as the middle class increases.

However, Kenya’s national election, scheduled for August, is dampening demand over fears of violence. More than 1,000 people were killed in fighting following a disputed presidential poll in 2007.

“People are a little reluctant to book at this moment. Forward bookings for August do not go very far,” Hondius said.

Kenya Airways will release its earnings report for its year to the end of March on Thursday. ($1 = 103.2500 Kenyan shillings) (Reporting by Duncan Miriri; editing by Katharine Houreld and Susan Thomas)

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