FastJet Flies Into Competitive African Skies

African low-cost start-up FastJet has unveiled its full corporate branding and further details of its initial network plans ahead of its anticipated launch.  The carrier’s Chief Executive Officer, Ed Winter, revealed ahead of a panel discussion, organised and moderated by industry expert John Strickland at the World Travel Market in London, that operations are on track to begin before the end of this month as final traffic permissions and licences are approved by individual African governments.

During the session, which also included senior executives from established East African carriers Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways, Ed Winter confirmed that FastJet will initially launch operations in Tanzania’s domestic market with flights from its Dar Es Salaam base to Kilimanjaro and Mwanza, but will later begin international services to Nairobi, Kenya; Entebbe, Uganda; Juba, South Sudan and Kigali, Rwanda.

According to latest schedule data, FastJet will compete directly with Precision Air and the limited current operations of Air Tanzania.  In the international market, Air Uganda currently flies between Dar es Salaam and Entebbe, RwandAir operates to the Tanzanian capital from Kigali and Kenya Airways and Precision Air serve the Nairobi route.  There are currently no scheduled services between Dar es Salaam and Juba.

The start-up will initially launch with three Airbus A319s and these aircraft are in the process of being painted in FastJet’s full livery before being dispatched to Tanzania ahead of its planned launch of operations.  The carrier is expected to open reservations for its initial route network next week as its official website is launched.

According to FastJet, the site will allow tickets to be bought using credit/debit cards as well as mobile phone technology that will debit the user’s telephone account.   However, alongside the traditional low-cost offerings tickets will additionally be sold through travel agents and FastJet’s own sales desk, call centre and offices throughout East Africa. The airline is expected to offer fares starting from $20 one-way, excluding taxes and charges.  Ahead of the opening of bookings, FastJet has this week revealed full details of its corporate brand.

The new branding, which replaces the previous placeholder logo, features the well-known African Grey Parrot which the airline says was carefully selected following in-depth market research in Africa and reflects the Company’s mission, values and target audience.

“The African Grey is renowned for its intelligence and is therefore a perfect personification of FastJet’s motto; smart travel.  We are delighted to be unveiling this new branding, which better reflects our individual corporate identity and speaks to our key audiences,” said Ed Winter.  “We hope that our friendly new mascot and logo will soon become universally recognised as symbols of reliability, efficiency and safety.”

FastJet plans add at least five leased A319s to its fleet within six months of launch and up to 15 within a year.  Its plans to expand to between 30 and 40 aircraft within three years of launch by which time its network would extend to eight countries across Africa.  It is already looking at new bases across Africa with Nairobi, Accra in Kenya and Luanda in Angola all understood to be under consideration.  Speaking during the World Travel Market airline panel session, Ed Winter described Angola as a possible "jewel in the crown" for the low-cost venture.

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