EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou’s plans for a new low-cost carrier for Africa took a significant step forward today.
The planned Fastjet carrier will be developed on the existing Lonrho Aviation platform under the Fly540 brand, which carried more than 525,000 passengers in the 15 months to the end of December 2011.
Lonrho today agreed to sell the aviation business to investment company Rubicon Diversified Investments for $85.7 million.
As part of the transaction, Sir Stelios’ easyGroup Holdings will own 5% of Rubicon.
Ed Winter, former chief executive of British Airways budget carrier Go and chief operating officer of EasyJet, will head the new African airline venture.
Fastjet will operate under a licensing agreement with easyGroup utilising the Lonrho Aviation route network with modern jet aircraft operating to European standards, a statement said.
It will maintain Lonrho’s four year programme of developing operational hubs in East, West and South West Africa with strategic hubs in Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and Angola, “providing an unparalleled route network and operating platform to launch across Africa”.
Cash resources held by Rubicon of £8.8 million will be available for continued investment in the airline.
Lonrho executive chairman David Lenigas said: “Lonrho has completed its investment programme into its aviation division and has successfully created a unique aviation network in Africa.
“The next step in the growth of the business requires a world class aviation team to develop the business to meet the growing demand for a scheduled regional airline in Africa.
“I am delighted that Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and easyGroup have studied this market and concluded that the Lonrho aviation division provides a unique entry platform for the development of a true low cost carrier for Africa, to be branded FastJet.
“The combination of Lonrho’s experience in Africa; the aviation experience of Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and easyGroup; the route network and operations already established by Lonrho Aviation across Africa and Rubicon’s cash resources will enable Fastjet to quickly develop its low cost airline.”
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