VENTURES AFRICA – Fastjet is to become Africa’s first low-cost airline with commercial flights set to begin on Thursday, flying out of the company’s base in Dar-es-Salaam.
The first flight will depart Dar-es-Salaam at 6 am this Thursday, travelling to Mwana in north-western Tanzania, whereafter a second flight will depart to Kilimanjaro International Airport on the border between Kenya and Tanzania. These local flights will serve as the first phase in what the carrier hopes will be a rapid expansion across the African continent.
The company will be supported by a British management team constituted of a selection of ex-senior airline managers, including ex-members of easyJet, Go, FlyBe and Ryanair.
The carrier will offer flights at the lowest rate of £ 13 ($21) plus taxes and aims to undercut long-distance bus prices, and to shift the main mode of travel in Africa to the airspace.
Speaking as to the concept behind the new low-cost airline, Chief Executive of Fastjet Ed Winter said: “There is no typical fastjet passenger…There will be everyone from people who have never flown before, to traders finding new markets, to government ministers. The idea is to give people who used to spend 12 hours on a bus to visit their relatives the option to fly for the first time,” reports the Telegraph.
Once established after Thursday’s flights, Fastjet hopes to launch a broad offering of flights first around East Africa – a second hub due to be launched in Nairobi in the near future. From these locations the airline will provide routes linking passengers to Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda. However it is intended that a wider African offering will follow as the company’s fleet and passenger base develops.
The airline will expand its fleet to 15 aircraft over the first 12 months of operation, with passenger adaption to the “low-cost” model key to the rate of expansion the company will see.
Africa (with the exception of South Africa) is not yet familiar with the low-cost style of airline, with limited seat and leg-room, paying for meals and refreshments and a limit of carry-on and hold baggage.
“It is going to take a week or two to get this new model fully understood, few passengers in Africa have had exposure to the way low cost carriers operate,” admits Fastjet’s General Manager, Kyle Haywood.
The company saw an inaugural flight take place on Tuesday, above the Indian Ocean.
Gabriella Mulligan is a journalist with a special interest in business and legal issues, having come to journalism following a successful career in consultancy. After completing her legal education at the esteemed law school at Cambridge University, and prior to that at the University of Kent, Gabriella went on to work for a “Big Four” financial and business services firm. She now enjoys writing on topical issues that affect businesses and the economy today. Gabriella is British and Hungarian. She has travelled widely, but harbours a passion for Africa and has made Nairobi, Kenya her home.