Bankrupt Kenyan regional operator, Jetlink Express (J0), grounded since 16 November due to the inaccessibility of USD2million worth of funds currently locked up in South Sudan, has suffered yet another blow as creditors have begun to move in to secure their interests.
In a court order issued in Nairobi last week, the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority was directed to seize four of Jetlink’s CRJ200 jets pending a suit filed by GA Mexico Crj Limited, whom Jetlink is claimed to owe USD4'948'792 in overdue rentals (said to be due from September).
.....This was after the company (GA Mexico CRJ) said it was apprehensive that the other of Jetlink's creditors may mistakenly attach its aircraft and engines on the mistaken belief that the same belongs to Jetlink. According to court documents, Jetlink has stopped carrying out its operations while it is in physical possession of the Mexican aircraft 'and while it is still indebted to it.'
Under a certificate of urgency, CJR claims it leased all the four aircraft to Jetlink under various leases dated 22 December 2008, 29 January 2009, 4 December 2009 and 9 April 2010 together with all aircraft engines....
|A Jetlink CRJ200 in Nairobi|
Jetlink was further restrained from operating or utilising all the listed aircraft.
Following its cessation of ops, Jetlink has sent its 350 employees home in the hopes of being able to resolve its impasse with South Sudanese banks, which has been going on for the last four months.
In late August, the airline wrote to the South Sudan Central Bank Governor, Kornello Mayik requesting an urgent allocation of USD3million and monthly allocations of at least USD500'000 to enable it to clear its debts and fund monthly operations, but to no avail. The carrier then sought the intervention of Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga who, through use of diplomatic channels, was able to communicate with South Sudan's Equity Bank CEO, James Mwangi, requesting the bank to continue extending credit to Jetlink. In October, all that was received was a tepid assurance that the crisis in South Sudan was temporary and that the matter would be resolved.
Last week, Kenyan Immigration Minister, Otieno Kajwang, petitioned President Kibaki to direct the Treasury to "release funds to rescue the carrier, arguing that National Coffers had in the past come to the rescue of Kenya's Co-operative Creameries, coffee and pyrethrum industries."
No response has been heard from the Kenyan Government.