It’s no secret that travelling across Africa is very expensive. The airline industry has been attributing this to high taxes for years with little change on the horizon. Aviation is one of those sectors that nations love to protect as having a national airline is considered to be a status symbol (a rather expensive one). When commenting on the state of internet access in his country, a telecoms executive recently described it as boring. Perhaps the same could be attributed to the aviation industry in Africa. What new or locally relevant solutions have come about?
Asia’s economic boom resulted in a thriving aviation sector that bore famous carriers like Air Asia and Jet Airways. In South Africa, airlines like Kulula.com are opening aviation to the masses. Where the rest of the continent is concerned, flying is still a privilege for the rich. This is where Fastjet comes in. This ‘new’ outfit is not really new in that it previously existed under the Fly540 badge. A very significant transformation beyond a change of name is the involvement of Sir Stelios as a minority shareholder. This Sir Stelios happens to be the founder of Europe’s low cost airline champion; Easyjet. What is very exciting about Fastjet is that it has begun laying the foundation for a Pan African footprint from its Tanzanian base. Plans to acquire the now defunct 1time Airline of South Africa could accelerate this if successful.
The company has arrived in Africa with what appears to be a relevant appreciation of local needs and opportunities. Evidence of this lies in a service it introduced to enable farmers and traders to transport their produce. At a price point of $5 per 20kg, the service can contribute towards the growth of Tanzania’s agriculture industry. Farmers and traders can now transport fresh produce quickly and with fewer hassles than before. As fastjet expands across Africa, we look forward to more of the same and on a grander scale… Increased competition and better regulation could make the future even more exciting for traders across the continent.