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Fly540 logo.png
IATA ICAO Callsign
HubsJomo Kenyatta International Airport
Fleet size6
Company sloganYour Local Airline
HeadquartersNairobi, Kenya
Key peopleDon Smith (CEO)
Neil Steffen (COO)

Five Forty Aviation Ltd, trading as Fly540, is a low-cost airline which commenced operations in 2006 and is based in Nairobi, Kenya,[1] that operates domestic and international passenger and freight services.[2] The airline had two subsidiary airlines, Fly540 Ghana (suspended in May 2014 and since sold) and Fly540 Angola (suspended in May 2014), but has since focused its business expansion plans on East Africa.[3]


Initial domestic services[edit]

Fly540 started operations between Nairobi and Mombasa on November 24, 2006. The service initially operated twice daily using 48-seat ATR 42 aircraft.[4] The airline's name refers to its price of KSh5,540 per adult return fare between the above-mentioned cities.[5]

Lonrho Africa was a major investor in the company, paying US $1.5 million for a 49% stake.[citation needed]

In May 2007 the airline introduced two de Havilland Canada Dash 8-100 aircraft to increase the airline's capacity, allowing it to develop new domestic routes. Passenger numbers rose by 93% to 171,160 in the year ended 30 September 2008, from 88,571 in 2007. At the same time, the load factor amounted to 63%, down from 65.8% in 2007.[6]

Pan-African ambitions[edit]

The original scheduled flights included freight and passenger services between Nairobi and Mombasa, while Kisumu became a destination in January 2007.[5] Daily flights on the Nairobi-Malindi-Lamu route were added to its domestic services in February 2007.[7]

International operations commenced in October 2007 with flights to Juba in South Sudan and Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo;[8] Entebbe in Uganda was added in February 2008. It was planned to expand the Nairobi hub's destinations to Rwanda, Mozambique and Burundi in 2009.[9] The company's ambition was to become a pan-African carrier, through an expansion to an additional two regional hubs:

"...we will open up Kigali and then head to West Africa. Ghana will be the hub for West African region. In Southern Africa, we shall use Angola as our hub, so it will become a pan African low cost airline".[10]

Fly540 received authorisation to start operations in Angola in April 2009. The initial plans include domestic flights to Cabinda, Luanda, Soyo, Benguela, Huambo and Malanje,[11] but an expansion within the region will take place as soon as the domestic market has proven its success.[9] In June 2009, it was reported that Fly540 was working to set up a regional franchise in Zimbabwe.[12]

Fly540 Tanzania launched direct flights[13] between Dar es Salaam and Mwanza, on the western shores of Lake Victoria. Initially the company operated 11 flights a week and it was hoped that in time its Fokker 28 aircraft, which carrie 28 people, would be upgraded to a 50-seater CRJ 100.

In 2015 Fly540 Ghana (suspended in May 2014) was sold by former owner Fastjet, to UK-based DWG-G for a token US$1 and is due to resume operations as Royal Fly540.[14]

Investment by Fastjet[edit]

In June 2012 Fly540 was sold for $85.7 million (Sh7.3 billion) to British investment firm Rubicon Diversified Investments (now Fastjet Plc [15]), who purchased the airline from Lonrho group. Rubicon said it had chosen to acquire Fly540 as its platform for the launch of a budget airline in Africa, to be modelled on Europe's second largest low-cost carrier EasyJet.[16]

The first flights were transferred to the new airline, Fastjet, from 29 November 2012.[17] These were two domestic routes in Tanzania; it had been expected that all Fly540 flights would quickly be transferred to Fastjet, in turn, as the various arrangements and permissions required for each route are agreed.

Following the acquisition of Lonrho's 49% interest in Five Forty Aviation Ltd, and a further 49.98% economic interest in the company approved at a Fastjet General meeting on 29 June 2012 and completed on 2 July 2012, it became apparent that the vendor did not consider the additional acquisition had completed. The dispute led to legal claims by both parties over the ownership and other matters.[18] A Memorandum of Understanding was reached on 23 April 2013 where both parties agreed to stop legal proceedings against each other, but because Fastjet now considered they did not have control or significant influence, Five Forty Aviation Ltd has since been treated as an investment in their accounts. The Fly540 operations in Tanzania, Angola and Ghana, however, are fully incorporated within Fastjet's accounts.

Corporate affairs[edit]

Ownership and associated companies[edit]

Since the acquisition of Lonrho (BVI) Ltd's interest on 29 June 2012, Fastjet has owned 49% of Five Forty Aviation Ltd.[citation needed]


As of February 2016, Fly540 flies to the following destinations.

Country City Airport Notes
Kenya Eldoret Eldoret International Airport
Kenya Homa Bay Homa Bay Airport
Kenya Kisumu Kisumu International Airport
Kenya Lamu Manda Airport
Kenya Lodwar Lodwar Airport
Kenya Malindi Malindi Airport
Kenya Mombasa Moi International Airport
Kenya Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport [Hub]
South Sudan Juba Juba International Airport
Tanzania Zanzibar Abeid Amani Karume International Airport


Fly540 ATR 72, stored at Toulouse airport

The Fly540 fleet consists of the following aircraft (as of August 2017):[19]

Fly540 fleet
Aircraft In service Orders Passengers Notes
Bombardier CRJ100ER 2
Bombardier CRJ200LR 2
Bombardier Dash 8-100 1
Bombardier Dash 8-Q300 1

In January 2008, the company signed a US$150 million contract for eight ATR 72-500s to be delivered in 2008 and 2009.[20] These orders have since been cancelled.[citation needed] In April 2014, Fastjet announced that two ATRs and both DC-9 aircraft were to be withdrawn from service: the ATRs are to be sold, and the DC-9s are to be returned to their lessors.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 13 August 2008, a Fokker F27-500 cargo aircraft crashed about 20 km (12 mi) from the Namber Konton airport near Mogadishu, Somalia. All three crew members died. The aircraft was said to be carrying a shipment of khat.[21] The aircraft had departed from Wilson Airport in Nairobi.[22]
  • On January 27, 2011, a Fokker 27 plane on test flight departing Wilson Airport failed to take off and ran through the perimeter fence into a maize field. The plane had four persons on board, and no injuries resulted [23][24]


  1. ^ "Kenya Contact Information." (direct file link) Fly540. Retrieved on 14 January 2011. "Riverside Green Suites Five Forty Africa Head Office Palm Suite, Riverside Drive P.O. Box 10293-00100 Nairobi, Kenya."
  2. ^ "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. 2007-04-03. p. 83.
  3. ^ "fastjet 2015 outlook: fleet expands and new affiliates launch but profitability remains challenging". CAPA - Centre for Aviation. Retrieved 2017-07-13.
  4. ^ Airliner World January 2007
  5. ^ a b The Standard, January 18, 2007: The new kite in the skies
  6. ^ Lonrho PLC, March 30, 2009: Annual Report 2008
  7. ^ "Fly540 - East Africa's low cost airline". Retrieved 2017-07-13.
  8. ^ The Standard, September 26, 2007: Fly540 eyes Sudan and DRC
  9. ^ a b Lonrho PLC, November 11, 2008: Lonrho Raises £15.6 million to Continue the Development of its Core Businesses
  10. ^ The Monitor, August 12, 2008: Africa: Fly540 Airline Sets Eyes on Continent
  11. ^ Lonrho PLC, April 29, 2009: Air Services Licence Issued for Fly540 Angola
  12. ^ Zimbabwe Independent, June 4, 2009: Zimbabwe: LonZim Planning to Set Up Airline
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Royal Fly540". Airliner World: 14. November 2015.
  15. ^, August 7, 2012: Rubicon Diversified Investments PLC : Result of EGM & Change of Name to FastJet
  16. ^ The Star, Nairobi, July 9, 2012: Kenya: Fastjet to Phase Out Fly540 By October
  17. ^ Centre for Aviation, November 30, 2012: FastJet takes to the air, promising a modern pan-African network
  18. ^ "Annual Report 2012". Fastjet Plc. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
  19. ^ "Global Airline Guide 2017 (Part One)". Airliner World (October 2017): 19. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  20. ^ EADS, January 11, 2008: Lonrho to acquire eight ATR 72-500s for airline Fly540
  21. ^ - Kenyan Cargo Plane Crashes Near Somali Capital; Three Killed
  22. ^ Daily Nation, August 13, 2008: Plane crashes in Mogadishu
  23. ^ Daily Nation, January 27, 2011: Fly 540 plane crash-lands in maize field
  24. ^ ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 89608

External links[edit]