Of the many arrows that have wounded the mighty Kenya Airways in the past several years—aside from the general decline of Africa's economies from the 'Africa Rising' decade of the early 2000s—the advent of low-cost rivals in its home region has only further eroded its growth.
More so than any other carrier, upstart Fastjet has stolen away passengers with its fleet of new planes offering staggering minuscule airfares. The airline did not decide to go head-to-head in Nairobi, basing its operations in Dar-es-Salaam, which has more of a supply vacuum.
Rumors that famed aviation entrepreneur Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou of Easyjet fame was launching another airline surfaced in 2011; specific plans for an African low-cost airline emerged in 2012 ahead of Fastjet's November 2012 launch.
Well capitalized, Fastjet grew quickly through 2015, but has since been dragged by the same headwinds that have hurt Kenya Airways. South Africa has gone from BRIC economy to sinking like a brick. Zimbabwe remains one of the world's least functional states, and Zambia's growth has evaporated with the slumping of the copper price. Not easy turf to turn a profit on.
Throughout last year, a dramatic boardroom battle played out across East African and global business papers, as Stelios mounted a campaign to reform the management of the ailing airline. The ouster was successful, however since that time Fastjet has left the Kenyan and Ugandan markets entirely, and its flights to Zanzibar lasted barely a year. Several of the services shown above, including its longest route, Dar—Johannesburg, have been scrapped. Still, the airline offers flights domestically within Tanzania and to four other countries, with many fares started at less than US$100.