London - Fastjet, the African low-cost airline venture, has acquired the option to buy 1time Airline in a move that could expand its operations to the continent’s largest aviation market.

Fastjet would buy the bankrupt airline from parent 1time Holding for R1, the London-based carrier said in a statement yesterday.

1time operations under the Fastjet brand would begin next year if the option was exercised, it said. Fastjet commenced service three weeks ago with flights in Tanzania and has ambitions to build a network across the African continent using a fleet of Airbus A319s.

The company is backed by Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder of easyJet, and is majority owned by mining and agricultural group Lonrho.

“The acquisition of 1time supports Fastjet’s growth into a pan-African low-cost carrier and the synergies with Fastjet’s existing operations will potentially increase the number of available route networks from South Africa into the rest of Africa,” Fastjet chief executive Ed Winter said.

Approval from regulators was required, as well as a court-sanctioned settlement with 1time creditors, Fastjet said. – Bloomberg