fastjet eyes Lusaka airline base

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Following recent press speculation, fastjet confirms that it is in discussions with the Zambian government with the intent of creating a fastjet airline base in Lusaka.

The Zambian economy provides considerable opportunity. Zambia has a population of over 14 million, 66% of which are under 24 years of age. While landlocked, Zambia has borders with Tanzania, Malawi, DRC, Namibia, Botswana, Angola and Zimbabwe and has significant regional trade links with its neighbours.

South Africa is a major trading partner and provider of technical expertise.

Zambia is a significant producer of copper with exports to China. The economy is growing substantially with average annual real GDP growth in excess of 6% since 2005.

There are a number of small, local airlines providing unreliable and intermittent services on domestic Zambian routes and there is strong evidence of a need for a dependable airline that can offer good value, high quality and regular services. Key domestic routes that could be served by the fastjet low-cost model are between Lusaka, Ndola and Livingstone.

Ndola, on the DRC border and in the centre of the copper belt, is a key hub which is currently poorly served. On many routes, Zambian people currently have to undertake long and dangerous road journeys. Typical is the route from Lusaka to Dar es Salaam, which will be served by fastjet Tanzania from 1st February 2014, where thousands of people per day undertake the 24 hour road journey.

Regional international routes are all provided by non-Zambian airlines, with the key route from Lusaka to Johannesburg being served with seven flights per day by South Africa Airways and its associates. fastjet is confident that its market-stimulating pricing model will grow traffic on these routes substantially.

The business and political environment in Zambia is very progressive and fastjet’s discussions to date with the Zambian government, Tourist Board and other stakeholders have been very positive. Highlighted during the talks have been the obvious benefits of a low-cost airline to the country and Zambian people, which include the expansion of trade and tourism links and the safety and reliability improvements which fastjet will bring to the Zambian aviation industry.

The new airline, while being distributed and marketed as a part of the pan-African fastjet network, would be a Zambian registered company in which fastjet plc will have a substantial stake. The airline would have country-specific branding and would provide employment opportunities to suitably qualified Zambians. Furthermore, fastjet would provide training facilities as appropriate to ensure that the airline grows and develops its Zambian roots and workforce. fastjet is keen to engage with potential Zambian investment partners.

fastjet will progress its application for an Air Services Licence and Air Operator Certificate as rapidly as possible but this process is likely to take up to six months. In the meantime, fastjet will be bringing its reliable, safe and great-value flights to the Zambian people on the Lusaka – Dar es Salaam route that was announced recently and has already recorded strong interest and sales.

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