Zuma’s son behind Fastjet, new low-cost airline to launch in SA soon

2013-04-25 00:00

CAPE TOWN — President Jacob Zuma’s son Edward is behind a new low-cost airline that is set to launch in May.

The new privately run airline will fly under the name of Fastjet, a European carrier spreading its wings into Africa.

The group already operates in Tanzania and has been struggling for access to local airspace.

Fastjet initially wanted to buy the liquidated 1Time company, but that plan was dropped, partly because local aviation legislation stipulates that airlines must be at least 75% South African owned.

Zuma’s investment company, Blockbuster, will own 75% of the company under a co-operation agreement with Fastjet, which will own the remaining 25%.

Kyle Haywood, Fastjet’s Africa manager, said Blockbuster already owns several successful African businesses.

“Fastjet will bring airline knowledge and experience to the table.” He said the agreement sets out the responsibilities of each party.

At first, Fastjet will operate one jet between Johannesburg and Cape Town, but is busy registering more planes.

“The plan is to expand to other routes. We are busy appointing staff and have appointed some of 1Time’s former staff,” he said.

The consortium will use the licence of Federal Air, a Johannesburg airline charter company. According to the Federal Air website, the licence permits flights to neighbouring countries. Fastjet will therefore be able to operate in the region.

Haywood said that with the collapse of 1Time at the end of last year, airline ticket prices have risen considerably.

“The demand for tickets is still strong, but supply is limited. We believe the new airline will offer South Africans welcome relief,” he said.

When 1Time was liquidated, it was operating 10 planes on 33 daily flights to eight destinations, with 120 000 passengers a month.

Fastjet’s biggest competition will be national carrier SAA’s low-cost affiliate, Mango, and Comair’s Kulula.

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