Fastjet’s commercial chief Richard Bodin foresees the carrier’s planned Zambian and Zimbabwean subsidiaries both starting operations this year.
There is now something of a “race” between the two to be first to secure an air operator’s certificate and bilateral traffic rights and then start flights, says Bodin.
“We had indeed targeted Zimbabwe towards the end of the year, but the authorities there seem to be very keen to promote aviation,” he told Flightglobal at the Routes Middle East & Africa conference in Bahrain.
“We’ve encountered one or two delays in Zambia, with the sad demise of the president there of course, which caused the delay and the election and so on,” he adds, alluding the death of Zambian president Michael Sata in October 2014.
â€œSo maybe [the launch in] Zambia is taking slightly longer than we hoped, but overall we hope to have both operational certainly by the end of the year.”
Bodin says additional aircraft will be leased to both subsidiaries to get operations under way.
In Zimbabwe, the self-styled pan-African carrier will target routes between Bulawayo, Livingston and Victoria Falls Bulawayo, with attraction of passengers currently using the bus “a core, core business for us”. Bodin points out that there are currently 100 bus services linking Harare and Johannesburg each day.
He “absolutely expects” the Zambian operation to have traffic rights to serve destinations such as Johannesburg and Durban.
In 2016, he predicts, Fastjet will start subsidiaries in Kenya and South Africa. “You can’t be a pan-African carrier without having South Africa in your sights,” says Bodin.