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Fly540 logo.png
IATA ICAO Callsign
HubsJomo Kenyatta International Airport
Fleet size5
HeadquartersNairobi, Kenya
Key peopleDon Smith (CEO)

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 in February 2008. Additionally Fly540 Tanzania launched direct flights[9] 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.

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 [10]), 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.[11]

The first flights were transferred to the new airline, Fastjet, from 29 November 2012.[12] 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 Kenya 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.[13] A Memorandum of Understanding was reached on 23 April 2013 where both parties agreed to stop legal proceedings against each other because Fastjet considered they did not have control or significant influence. AS of 1st July 2014, a settlement was agreed between Fastjet and Don smith [CEO] in which Fastjet transferred all shares in Five Forty Aviation Kenya LTD to Don Smith and Fastjet relinquished any further interest in Five Forty Aviation Ltd. The Five Forty brand name is for sole use of Five Forty Aviation Kenya Ltd.

Corporate affairs[edit]

Since the acquisition of Lonrho (BVI) Ltd's interest on 29 June 2012, Five Forty Aviation Ltd is now 100% privately owned.[citation needed]


Fly540 ATR 72, stored at Toulouse airport

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

Country City Airport Notes
Kenya Eldoret Eldoret International 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


Current fleet[edit]

The Fly540 fleet consists of the following aircraft (as of August 2019):[14]

Fly540 fleet
Aircraft In service Orders Passengers Notes
Bombardier CRJ200LR 2
Bombardier Dash 8-100 1
Bombardier Dash 8-200 1
Bombardier Dash 8-Q300 1

Fleet development[edit]

In January 2008, the company signed a US$150 million contract for eight ATR 72-500s to be delivered in 2008 and 2009.[15] 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.

Former fleet[edit]

The airline previously operated the following aircraft (as of August 2017):[16]


  1. ^ "Kenya Contact Information." (direct file link Archived 2011-07-11 at the Wayback Machine) 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 Archived 2009-06-04 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Fly540 - East Africa's low cost airline". Retrieved 2017-07-13.
  8. ^ The Standard, September 26, 2007: Fly540 eyes Sudan and DRC
  9. ^
  10. ^, August 7, 2012: Rubicon Diversified Investments PLC : Result of EGM & Change of Name to FastJet
  11. ^ The Star, Nairobi, July 9, 2012: Kenya: Fastjet to Phase Out Fly540 By October
  12. ^ Centre for Aviation, November 30, 2012: FastJet takes to the air, promising a modern pan-African network
  13. ^ "Annual Report 2012". Fastjet Plc. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
  14. ^ "Global Airline Guide 2017 (Part One)". Airliner World (October 2017): 19.
  15. ^ EADS, January 11, 2008: Lonrho to acquire eight ATR 72-500s for airline Fly540[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "Global Airline Guide 2017 (Part One)". Airliner World (October 2017): 19.

External links[edit]

Media related to Fly540 at Wikimedia Commons