New African airline takes off, eyes SA

2012-11-14 11:59

Cape Town - After much anticipation, brand new pan-African budget airline, fastjet, is finally in business.

Last week Moneyweb reported that the UK based airline had been in negotiations with the business rescue team appointed by 1time in the wake of their untimely liquidation.

Given that fastjet were negotiating a possible entry via 1time, one can safely assume the LSE-listed airline is clearly hoping to expand operations into South Africa. However, no set plans seem to be in place yet.

Up until Tuesday, fastjet's website provided visitors with general information about the company, stakeholders and management, but flight routes, costs and dates made no appearance. 

On Wednesday, however, a colourful new site, complete with an easy-to-navigate booking engine, serves as the best sort of proof that the airline is indeed a reality.

Where they fly to

fastjet currently flies from three international airports in Tanzania, covering routes between Dar es Salaam, Mwanza and Kilimanjaro. Plans are also firmly in place to extend routes to Zanzibar, Entebbe in Uganda as well as Nairobi and Mombassa in Kenya in the near future.

Since 1time's operations have been suspended, there is a gap in the local market for flights to Zanzibar. This might be a good entry point for fastjet, since Tanzanian airline Precision Air's weekly flight departing on Fridays from Johannesburg is the only option for locals.

Costs

Tickets are priced in Tanzanian shilling on the site and start from about 32 000 TZS (R173). When going through the booking process, however, users should be aware of the fact that airport taxes are not included in the original price shown. All additional costs get added up right at the end of the booking, but shouldn't work out that much more expensive.

An experimental booking we put through for a return flight between Mwanza and Dar es Salaam worked out to 86 080 TZS (R472) including taxes.

Booking

The fastjet website states that their philosophy is that air travel should be simple. And they seem to be sticking to it, as tickets can be booked online, via mobile phone or through a travel agent.

Payment must be made within a reasonable time i.e. within:
48 hours of booking if travelling within a month
24 hours of booking if travelling within 4 days
6 hours of booking if travelling in less than 4 days
1 hour of booking if travelling within 24 hours

Baggage

Unfortunately the airline does not offer free space in the hold for your luggage.

The hold baggage allowance is 20kg per passenger for the fee of 8000 TZS (R45) payable online or at check-in and is limited to one bag. If your bag is heavier than this, you will be charged a fee of 8000 TZS per kilogram when flying domestically (in Tanzania) or 11 000 TZS (R60) when flying internationally.

Passengers are allowed to board the aircraft with one piece of hand luggage measuring a maximum 56 x 45 x 25cm. This means one brief case, one handbag, rucksack, suit or dress carrier. There is no weight restriction but you must be able to place and retrieve the item of baggage safely in the overhead lockers.

Future plans

While fastjet is focusing on East Africa at the moment, they have ambitions to become Africa's first pan-continental, low-cost airline.


 
Read more on:    1time  |  travel international  |  flights
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