Difficult year sees Fastjet losses double

Difficult year sees Fastjet losses double

The African low-cost carrier supported by easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou more than doubled losses in a “very difficult” first half of the year.

Fastjet saw operating losses deepen to $31 million from $12.8 million in the equivalent period in 2015.

Profit after tax slumped into the red with a loss of $15 million from a profit of $6.4 million in the first six months of 2015.

This came despite an increase in revenue from $31.5 million to 33.1 million as passenger numbers grew by 9% to 398,593.

The Fastjet head office is being relocated from Gatwick to Johannesburg by early 2017 to cut costs so the airline can be close to its home markets. 

The fleet of five Airbus A319 aircraft will be reduced to three by the end of the year and replaced by three smaller leased aircraft, trimming seat capacity and flights costs by about 15%. The airline’s sole owned A319 will be sold.

A ‘stabilisation plan’ initiated by new chief executive Nico Bezuidenhout includes improving distribution through trade and direct channels, including a deal with Amadeus.

The airline which was co-founded by Sir Stelios who holds a 12.6% stake, plans to introduce a travel agent incentive programme to accompany the introduction of GDS sales.

Bezuidenhout said: "The first six months of 2016 was a very difficult and challenging time for Fastjet.

“While positive developments included the launch of flights between Harare and Johannesburg, adverse economic and trading conditions significantly impacted the company's financial results and passenger numbers.

"As a result, my focus since being appointed has been to undertake a fundamental review of all aspects of Fastjet's business model and operations.  My immediate priority is to stabilise the business, reduce costs and ensure that we have the correct size of fleet, in terms of both number and size of aircraft.”

He added:  "We continue to pursue cost-reduction and revenue-generating initiatives and to refine and develop our customer offering and low cost model. 

“Conditions remain very challenging and there is much work to be done.  But I am confident that the business is becoming more stable and that we are slowly moving towards a platform from which, in due course, Fastjet will be able to consider gradual expansion opportunities and start to deliver on its undoubted potential."

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