Thursday, January 3, 2013

■ TANZANIA: fastjet ruffles first feathers as TCAA encourages more LCCs to start operations.

fastjetMore low cost carriers are set to join the Tanzanian aviation scene in the coming year amid reports that Low Cost Carrier, fastjet (FN), has begun to ruffle its first feathers following its launch on 29 November.

fastjet in Dar es Salaam
fastjet in Dar es Salaam (fastjet)
Speaking at a press conference in the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam, Juma Fimbo, chairman of the Tanzanian Civil Aviation Authority - Consumer Consultative Council (TCAA-CCC) said that more low cost carriers had been invited to provide "even lower cost services" but did not divulge any details on whom the companies are. 

On the concept of 'Low Cost Air Travel', Fimbo explained that affordable aviation services did not mean "compromised safety" but rather involved a marketing and business model aimed at keeping prices low by cutting out options like inflight services and baggage handling.Fimbo went on to invite more investment in the sector to increase competition which would ultimately benefit that Tanzanian public by providing them with affordable air travel.

However, the advent of fastjet has been met with some hostility from some sectors of the Tanzanian aviation community with some operators claiming that fastjet was impinging on their interests by forcing them to "rethink their pricing and services":
"There have been complaints from various quarters about Fastjet but we want to assure all stakeholders that the services are not meant to disrupt anyone’s interests,” said Mr Fimbo, adding that the aim (of low cost travel) was to enable as many Tanzanians as possible to travel by air.

Prior to the festive season, rural bus operators in Tanzania were said to have voiced disapproval over fastjet and its offers of fares starting from USD20 (excl taxes) as "they proved to be even lower than what is being demanded by the uncomfortable, creaky and sluggish buses plying the same routes."

Despite initial ambivalence by the Tanzanian public over the LCC experience, fastjet has gone on to post respectable passenger load numbers with initial flights averaging of 78 percent, while three of the airline's first flights had a load factor of 90 percent.