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EasyJet founder to launch low-cost airline in Africa

         Date: 2012-06-28

           Tag: airline, low-cost airline

Summary: A new budget airline backed by easyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou will soon take to the African skies, promising to bring low-cost flights to millions of people in the continent.

 A new budget airline backed by easyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou will soon take to the African skies, promising to bring low-cost flights to millions of people in the continent.

Dubbed Fastjet, the no-frills carrier is expected to launch in three to four months, aiming to cash in on Africa's robust economic growth and a growing appetite for travel by its burgeoning middle class.

EasyJet founder to launch low-cost airline in Africa

EasyJet founder to launch low-cost airline in Africa

The move comes after Haji-Ioannou's easyGroup teamed up earlier this month with pan-African conglomerate Lonrho to create the low-cost carrier. Lonhro, owner of budget airline Fly540, has agreed to sell its aviation business to investment firm Rubicon Diversified Investments, in which easyGroup will hold a 5% stake.

The new business will start operations using Lonrho existing network in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Angola, before expanding to more markets in the future.

"These four countries are currently experiencing great GDP growth, along with oil and gas discoveries and developments," says Ed Winter, chief executive of Fastjet.

"We believe that the time is absolutely right to change Fly540 into a much bigger airline based on the low-cost model which has been successful in every other part of the world," adds Winter, who is easyJet's former chief operating officer.

The business, which will still be majority-owned by Lonrho, has set a target of carrying around 12 million passengers per year, "which creates an airline of roughly 40 aircraft," according to Richard Blakesley, Fastjet's finance director.

The low-cost carrier expects to offer average fares of $70-80 before tax, which could fall to as much as $15-20 when booked early.

"That price will absolutely democratize air travel, totally changing the way people are traveling in Africa," says Winter.

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, long bus journeys and poor infrastructure.


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