EasyJet founder set to launch low cost airlines in Africa

A new budget airline promising to bring low- cost flights to millions of people in Africa has been introduced. Backed by EasyJet founder Stelios Haji – Iannou, the low cost carrier is expected to launch in three to four months. Stylised as ‘FastJet’, the carrier is aiming to cash in on Africa’s robust economic growth and the growing appetite for travel by its middle class.

EasyGroup teamed up earlier this month with Pan-African Corporation Lonrho to create this low cost carrier. Lonrho has agreed to sell its aviation business Fly540 to investment firm Rubicon Diversified Investments, with EasyGroup holding a 5% stake.

The new airline will start operations using Lonrho’s existing networks in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Angola before its expansion to more markets in the future. Mr Ed Winter, Chief Executive of Fastjet stated that “these four countries are currently experiencing great GDP growth along with oil and gas discoveries and developments. We believe that the time is right to change Fly540 into a much bigger airline based on the low cost model which has been successful in every part of the world”.

FastJet’s finance director, Mr Richard Blakesley, has announced that the airline has set a target to carry around 12 million passengers per year. The carrier is also expected to offer average fares of $70-80 before tax which could fall as much as $15-20 when booked early. “That price will absolutely democratize air travel, totally changing the way people are travelling in Africa” adds Mr Winter (EasyJet’s former Chief Operating Officer).

FastJet executives say they hope to tap Africa’s rather underdeveloped aviation network, offering an affordable alternative in a transport environment largely dominated by difficult terrains and poor infrastructure.

Mr Haiji-Iannou has described Africa as “the aviation industry’s last frontier”.

Story by Claudia Andrews

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