Fastjet eyes bigger slice of African pie
Harare - Africa focused budget flights operator, Fastjet, is lining up an integrated regional operation after initial forays into Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia, riding on rising flights that have surged by 56 percent in the half year to June.
The company could start Zimbabwe operations as early as next month, people familiar with developments said.
The company already has a plane for its Zimbabwe domestic routes at Harare International Airport.
“The first flight will be in the next three to four weeks. We are currently carrying out test flights to Victoria Falls, as well as Bulawayo,” an executive involved in the licensing process said.
Zimbabwe has adopted a softer approach towards international investors as it seeks to grow the aviation industry.
The airline industry is important for the country’s efforts to boost the tourism sector, a key foreign currency and revenue earner for the cash-strapped government.
Fastjet is now awaiting the final licensing procedures in Zimbabwe and these will be wrapped up in the next few weeks. It is banking on its experience in Tanzania to rapidly consolidate the Zimbabwean domestic flights and enlist flights to other cities on the continent.
“The bigger picture is for flights across sub-Saharan Africa once we have set-up the Zimbabwe and Tanzania operations. In the future we would want flights from these countries to South Africa, as well as Kenya and Nigeria,” added the official in a discussion with Business Report.
Fastjet has six planes for its Africa aviation operations and is buoyant after passenger volumes increased by 56 percent in the half year to June 30.
Ed Winter has previously said by phone from London that Fastjet was banking on a leaner organisation, efficiency and punctuality. “Our flights are dependable and we are efficient as we utilise modern aircraft,” he said.
Most airlines in Africa struggle with punctuality while those run by the state, such as Air Zimbabwe and SAA, often make losses.
The Fastjet Tanzania operation attained a punctuality rate of 91 percent.
Air Zimbabwe currently dominates domestic flights in Zimbabwe but Winter does not see the state airline as the major competition.
He wants Fastjet to empower more people to fly through low budget flight.