Allan Kilavuka, CEO Jambojet: We are not always right but we strive to do the right thing

By Soko Directory Team / Published June 3, 2019 | 10:21 am





Some say that Jambojet is the future, some say it is “the now”, while some say the vibrant low-cost Kenyan airline is the new queen set to revive the glory of Kenya’s aviation industry.

There is no doubt that Jambojet is redefining the low-cost air traveling in Kenya. Having already flown 3,000,000 customers, the airline is no longer “upcoming” but seemingly a “giant” as one would call it.

In fact, there have been sentiments that Jambojet is now mature enough to stand alone. That it should break away from the wings of the parent company and push its own agenda in Kenya and beyond.

As Jambojet continues to scale the heights, Soko Directory had a sit-down with Allan Kilavuka, the CEO of Jambojet and had a discussion on a myriad of issues about Jambojet and Kenya’s aviation in general.

Mr. Allan Kilavuka, an Accountant as well as a Psychologist by profession has been at the helm of Jambojet for just six months but has a great vision for the airline. Before joining Jambojet, he worked with General Electric for 14 years. “Before that, I was a practicing accountant at Deloitte. I was in Deloitte for 10 years,” he says.

Tell us more about Jambojet?

“At Jambojet, we have our eyes set in very specific goals Our ambition is to make flying as safe, reliable and affordable to as many people as possible, not just in the region but in the wider Africa and in future, outside Africa.

We do that through how we model our business so that it is as efficient, responsive and as modern as possible. We don’t like being distracted by other things that are on the sidelines. We really want to focus on our goals and respond proactively to what our customers want and anticipate what they will want in the future.”

Is Jambojet planning to list at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE)?

“No. We have no plans of listing. Not now. Remember Kenya Airways is our parent company. We are 100 percent subsidiary of Kenya Airways with a separate board and management but we have no plans of listing.

The reason why we cannot list at the NSE is that we are still a subsidiary of Kenya Airways and also, we are not even ready to do that. For now, that is not something that we are focused on.

The aviation industry is very volatile and we do not need to lose any focus. The moment you lose focus, you completely miss the plot.”

Is Jambojet planning to be independent in the future?

“Things will play out. It will depend on many things. This will depend on what the airline wants to be. If the airline cannot be what it wants to be within the current structure, then we will have to think of a different structure so we are a response to our customers. The structure is determined by the strategy and the focus of the company.”

Do you think Jambojet has grown its customer base for the 5 years it has been flying?

“Yes. It has certainly increased. Last month, we celebrated our 3,000,000th passenger in five years. When we started flying, we were flying less than 200,000 passengers per year. This year we anticipate flying more than 700,000 passengers. We used to fly one aircraft, now we are flying five aircraft and by the end of this year, we will have eight.”

Flying more destinations

On May 28, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority granted the Regional Jambojet a three-year license to operate in fourteen African countries including Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Dar-es-Salaam, Zanzibar, Kilimanjaro, Mwanza (Tanzania), Kigali (Rwanda), Jubba, Hargeisa, Mogadishu (Somalia), Goma, Kisangani (Democratic Republic of Congo), Moroni (Union of the Comoros) and Lilongwe and Blantyre (Malawi) from the hub at JKIA.

“Once we receive the required rights to each of these destinations and are ready to begin operations. We are thankful for the confidence KCAA has shown in Jambojet.”

How has the current competition impacted you as Jambojet?

“We like competition. Competition is good for us so that we are able to improve from an efficiency standpoint. It is good for customers because it gives them a choice. They can completely see the difference between different players.

The only thing we ask is that the competition has to be on a level playing field. We encourage the competition but they have to play fair and abide by the rules. Safety is the most important thing, it is the pinnacle of the aviation industry.”

Do you think Jambojet is the future as people continue to move towards low-cost airlines?

“People want to pay less for good service. We are in that space already. To be the future is to see, how we can make it even better for the customer, not only by being low-cost but by enhancing the products and services either at the same cost or less. Within the constraints, we strive to be as low-cost as possible.”

What is your competitive age?

“We are very strict when it comes to operating within the parameters set and actually going one step ahead. Our procedures have a higher response to safety and reliability.

We also have an extremely well-trained staff who are able to relate to our customers in the friendliest way. We don’t do things right all the time. And things go wrong, the way we respond defines us as compassionate and caring.

The third factor that defines us is our agility. How quickly we respond to issues defines us. We also try to democratize processes so that things can be done as quickly as possible.

We also are at the cutting edge of technology. We are the most digitized airline I dare say in Africa. 60 percent of our bookings are done online and we are in the process of digitizing most of our processes.

The customer for us is everything.

2018 Bombardier Reliability Award

Jambojet was recently awarded the 2018 Bombardier Reliability Award for outstanding performance.

The award recognizes operators of Bombardier Q Series turboprops who achieve the highest rates of dispatch reliability, the percentage of flights that depart within a specified time of the scheduled departure time.

Airlines global standard uses a 15-minute margin between actual and scheduled departure time for a flight to be considered as having departed on time and Jambojet scooped it for 2018.

“We won this Award and it attests to our commitment to deliver on our core values on safety and reliability as the region’s affordable airline. We are always responding proactively to our consumers,”

Mr. Allan Kilavuka, the CEO Jambojet displaying the 2018 Bombardier Reliability Award for outstanding performance of Jambojet

 

In your opinion, what is the biggest threat to the aviation industry?

“The biggest threat to the aviation industry is the aviation industry. The industry is very highly regulated, though for good reasons. But sometimes that gets into our way of being innovative. We are not given a lot of freedom to think outside our confines.”

Parting shot?

“As Jambojet, we are proud that being the pioneers of the low-cost airline, we have had to transport more than 3,000,000 people, with 30 percent of our travelers being first-time travelers which means that we have made it possible for people who never dreamt of flying to fly. The new products that we are trying to conceive, we believe, will change the industry even more.

We want to be a global leader. (He reaches out for an award). This is an award we got this year. We got this from Bombardier. This is the most reliable airline in the Q 400 series.




About Soko Directory Team

Soko Directory is a Financial and Markets digital portal that tracks brands, listed firms on the NSE, SMEs and trend setters in the markets eco-system.Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/SokoDirectory and on Twitter: twitter.com/SokoDirectory

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