FastJet plans to start operations in November from Dar es Salaam

FastJet Plc ( is the holding company for African airline Fly540 (Five Forty Aviation) (Nairobi), which operates from four bases in Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and Angola.  Fly540 currently has 10 aircraft serving around 25 domestic and regional destinations, carrying approximately 750,000 passengers per year with a strong emphasis on safety, security and reliability.

According to the new airline, “following an intensive consultancy assignment by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou’s easyGroup focused on determining the feasibility of launching a European-style low-cost carrier in Africa, we are now preparing for the launch of FastJet, Africa’s first low-cost carrier, flying a modern fleet of jet aircraft based on the Fly540 platform of licences and routes. First flights under the FastJet brand are expected to take place in November 2012, bringing an entirely new flying experience to the African market.”

first operating base will be in the Tanzanian capital of Dar es Salaam.

The ambitious low-cost carrier is also planning to set up in Nairobi, Kenya, once the A319 aircraft is approved for use from the airport.

The group has already signed a lease for its first Airbus passenger jet, which will arrive in Dar es Salaam in October.

In a statement, the carrier made the following points:

Recruitment of crew and ground staff is already “well advanced”.

The company plans to become Africa’s leading budget carrier by offering flights for as low US$20 one-way, excluding taxes and charges.

CEO Ed Winter said: “Our initial focus will be on East Africa with the airline’s first base at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where the A319 aircraft has already been approved by the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority.

“This will be followed by a second base in Nairobi, Kenya, once the A319 is approved there.  We look forward to bringing a great, reliable and affordable service to the people of East Africa.”

Once established in East Africa, FastJet has plans to launch in Accra, Ghana and Luanda and Angola.

The business is being developed with the help of easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who is both a shareholder and director of the company.

The eventual aim is to create an airline carrying 12 million passengers a year using the low-cost blueprint patented in Europe.

It is an undertaking that will require a 40-strong fleet, but which would create a US$1 billion turnover business.

City analysts say the combination Haji-Ioannou and 73.7 per cent shareholder Lonrho (LON:LHRO) ticks all of the boxes required to run a successful no-frills airline in the region.

Lonrho brings the African knowledge; the new management under Ed Winter brings hands-on operational experience of running a low cost carrier; and Stelios brings credibility and supplier relationships and Fly540 provides a developed platform.

The market it addresses is also potentially huge and currently underdeveloped.

Africa is the fastest growing continent in the world, but airline capacity is just one seat per year per 13,000 people.

The US has 2.5 seats per person, while for the African market to grow to the size of Europe’s would require an extra 1.7 billion seats.

Image: FastJet.