Flying under? CAK orders Fly540 to stop selling flight tickets


Flight attendants board a Fly540 plane in Nairobi on March 18, 2011. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Local carrier Fly540 has been directed to cease flight services in Kenya, following growing customer complaints about its operations and the expiry of its air operation certificate in September.

The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK), which protects consumers from unfair and misleading market conduct by businesses, issued the directive on Tuesday.

It accused the airline of misleading the public on its capability to provide air travel services to passengers, arbitrary flight cancellations and short notices about them, and delays in refunding consumers.

The CAK also said the airline’s air operation certificate had expired on September 30 and it was not allowed to fly passengers in Kenya.

In a November 15 letter to the Fly540 CEO, the CAK said the airline should “CEASE AND DESIST FROM: Advertising for flight bookings in electronic media, print media and social media or receiving any flight bookings from the public or their representatives …”

The airline was also directed not to proclaim that it is “in a position to offer flight and related services to customers to and from any of the airports within the Republic of Kenya until the ongoing investigations are completed”.

Warned the airline

The CAK said it had warned the airline by July, when consumer complaints were already high, and required it to adhere to competition rules, warning that it would be penalised if it failed to do so, but Fly540 failed to rectify the problems.

“The Authority has continued to receive complaints from consumers indicating your continued non-compliance with the provisions of the [Competition] Act,” CAK stated.

CAK said that when customer complaints against Fly540 increased, it investigated consumer-related infringements, finding that key concerns included “false and misleading information on your (Fly540) capability to provide air transport services to passengers and the possibility of amending flight itineraries, arbitrary and, or short notices of cancellation of flights and inordinate delays in refunding your consumers”.

“The Authority is also aware that your Air Operator Certificate (AOC) expired on September 30, 2022 and accordingly you are not authorized to offer services,” the agency said.

Suspended operations

“Equally we are aware that you have suspended operations at the JKIA terminal 1D/terminal 2 and your offices at Watermark Business Park‚ Karen remain inaccessible to the affected public.”

The CAK said the airline contravened the Competition Act on false and misleading representations and engagement in unconscionable conduct.
“Further, Fly540 Limited is hereby required by the authority to refund all moneys received from consumers it has sold tickets to from September 30, 2022 to date and refund all moneys received from consumers who had purchased their tickets before September 30, 2022 and their flights were arbitrary cancelled,” it said.

The airline is required to make the refunds within 30 days.

It was also stopped from selling any more tickets.