Thursday, October 11, 2012

► TANZANIA: FastJet to launch with 3x daily Dar es Salaam - Nairobi flights.

FastjetFastJet have announced their debut route; that of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to Nairobi, Kenya and return. The route's debut flight will operate as a return VIP flight with 3x daily service between the two East African capitals to follow. No specific date, however, was given for the start of operations, though recent news reports have hinted at a possible November date launch.

Speaking to RoutesTV in Abu Dhabi recently, FastJet Chief Commercial Officer, Richard Bodin, stated that, whilst FastJet had adherred "as much as possible" to the classic LCC (low cost carrier) business model, they had had to adapt their business plan to suit the African market's cultural and infrastructural issues, namely that FastJet will embrace travel agencies and GDSs (Global Distribution Systems) for the sale of tickets, as opposed to the internet in sister carrier EasyJet's (EZY) case.

In a previous interview, FastJet CEO, Ed Winter, expanded on the latter point, noting that if prices are competitive, Africans will find a way to pay, whether via agents, internet cafes or mobile banking:
“The other thing is that there’s a fairly low expectation that the plane will be there, so people prefer to hand over bundles of cash at the airport when they can see it,” he said. “Once we’ve won their confidence they’ll be prepared to book.” 
Source [Bloomberg Business]

See the interview with Richard Bodin here:

Bodin also stated that now was "the right time to launch in Africa", given the recent oil and natural gas finds in East Africa, whose financial windfall has resulted in a rapidly growing middle class eager for air travel.

Fleet wise, Bodin said that FastJet would use Airbus A319s for the "next two to three years", though that could be open to change thereafter.

As mentioned in September, FastJet's first operating base will be in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, followed by Nairobi, Kenya, pending the certification of the Airbus A319 there. FastJet will then expand the brand into its sibling company, Fly540's, other operating bases in Accra, Ghana and Luanda, Angola.