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Monday, September 29, 2014

Fastjet doubles Entebbe flights

Effective yesterday, Fastjet has increased the number of flights between Dar es Salaam and Entebbe.


Flights have increased from the initial two to now four per week to meet steadily rising demand for nonstop travel between Uganda and Tanzania. Until the launch of Fastjet services, Ugandans had to travel via Nairobi or Kigali to reach Dar es Salaam, after the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, trying to evade ICAO citation for significant safety concerns of its operations, decapitated the country’s aviation industry, leaving a glaring gap in flight connections to the detriment of the entire region.


The doubling of flights to Entebbe comes on the back of Fastjet releasing unaudited half-year results, which in comparison with a year ago show some significant improvements.


Fleet utilization has since last year risen from 5.5 hours per day to 7.9 hours per day by the end of June, but more importantly, since the addition of flights to Harare and the increase in flights to Zambia, by the end of August reached 9.9 flight hours per day. The new route to Entebbe since September is bound to drive this figure into the double-digit hour range for the three Airbus A319 presently on the fleet.


Revenues of the Tanzania operation, presently the only active part of the Fastjet network, nearly doubled during the period under review to US$19 million while passenger numbers rose from the half year ended in June 2013 to June 2014 rose by 41.5 percent, with notably revenues per passenger now standing at over US$81.


Important for passengers is the 90 percent punctuality, meaning arrivals and departures are staying within 15 minutes of the published times, giving them a reliability few airlines in the region have accomplished so far.


A statement received from Fastjet, commenting on the half-year results, shed further light on these figures and data: “We are delighted to have seen a steady increase in the number of passengers travelling on core Tanzanian routes, with revenue growth of 96% against the same period last year. Strong underlying traffic growth in the first half of 2014 continues to demonstrate that Fastjet’s low-cost airline model works in the African market. This growth in traffic underpins our belief that people across Africa are increasingly embracing the travel opportunities offered by Fastjet’s safe, reliable, and great value product, with a high percentage of first-time flyers.


“Additional services from our Tanzanian base in Dar es Salaam to Lusaka, Harare and Entebbe, linking these land-locked countries to the port of Dar es Salaam, have proven successful and are performing well.  Although these routes are in their infancy, there is every indication that these will develop into valuable routes for the Fastjet Tanzania pan-African network.  Prior to these routes being launched there were no direct air services linking Dar es Salaam with either Harare or Entebbe.


“During the period, we added additional revenue streams to the business mix including car rentals, hotels and car parking and early indications suggest that these services are proving popular with our customers. Fastjet continues on its path of expansion, leveraging our first mover advantage to the benefit of our customers and shareholders.”


All eyes are now on the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority to learn when Fastjet will not only be granted an Air Service License, a prerequisite to start the process towards attaining an Air Operator Certificate which permits the start of operations, but also about the long overdue decision to let Fastjet Tanzania fly into Nairobi. The long overdue approval for those flights have raised the spectrum that should Kenya not allow these flights, the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority may resort to retaliatory measures over the perceived violation of reciprocity requirements under the existing BASA, short for Bilateral Air Services Agreement.

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