Fastjet plans South Africa debut by end of May

Fastjet plans South Africa debut by end of May

Fastjet is poised to start domestic services in South African by the end of next month.

The low cost carrier, backed by easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, aims to initially run two flights a day on the Johannesburg-Cape Town route twice a day in prime morning and afternoon business travel slots.

Flights to other key destinations will be launched once the Cape Town route is established.

Tickets could go on sale within a few weeks and Fastjet is targeting May 31 to launch the Johannesburg to Cape Town route.

Fastjet is raising an extra £2 million in working capital through a new share placing to support the expansion into South Africa.

The carrier said it has raised additional working capital to assist with the South Africa launch though a “successful placing with an institutional investor who is committed to low cost air travel in Africa”.

The planned expansion comes as the carrier signed a Memorandum of Understanding with South African investment company Blockbuster.

This would create a new offshoot 75% owned by Blockbuster, in compliance with South African law, and 25% owned by Fastjet.

A commercial arrangement has been struck between Blockbuster and local operator Federal Airlines, a company with a 20 year history in South Africa, which will allow Fastjet to make use of existing licensing infrastructure and deliver its low-cost airline model to the South Africa.

The Blockbuster/Federal joint venture emerged after attempted to revive collapsed South African carrier 1time was dropped.

Fastjet chief executive Ed Winter said: "We believe that the operating agreements in place between Blockbuster and Federal Air represent a great opportunity for Fastjet, our local investors, our partners at Federal Air and most importantly, the South African public.

"Though we have been in talks with a number of companies regarding licensing arrangements, we have ultimately decided that in order to best serve South African customers, we should invest not in the past, but in the future.

"We are now firmly focused on quickly getting up and running in order to create a fresh, unique and commercially sustainable offering which will stimulate the market.

"Fastjet sees a strategic gap in the South African marketplace for a pan-continental, low-cost airline operating the yield management model required to keep fares affordable for passengers, not just at launch, but also in the long term."

The airline’s chairman David Lenigas added: "Today is an incredibly exciting day for fastjet, not just in South Africa, but across the entire continent. As populations grow and disposable income and consumer spending increases, there is greater demand for affordable air travel. We would like to be part of the solution.

"We do not seek to be a hostile competitor in the market place as we fully understand and appreciate the significance of the national carrier and existing airlines in country, but we want to provide extra seat capacity to South Africans so that they can travel when and where they want at better prices.”

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