FASTJET SIGNS UP FOR TWO MORE A 319’S
Seemingly unperturbed by aviators sentiments from the region and seeing their much hyped up 20 US Dollar fare being torn to shreds after exposing it as a mirage, has FastJet reportedly signed up for two more Airbus A319 aircraft, configured with 150+ seats in an all economy version.
Leased from Volito Aviation (www.volito.aero) in Sweden, the two A 319’s are number 2 and 3 of an overall 5 the upstart intends to introduce in East and West Africa within weeks while intending to operate a fleet of up to 15 such birds within a year’s time, once flights have commenced.
Starting date for the projected flights between Dar es Salaam and Nairobi is still to be confirmed, but supposed to be in November, and it is understood that rival Air Tanzania, with the full backing of the Tanzanian government, seems intent to return to that route first, which if true would make the life of the new upstart even more challenging. The company has also signed up with handling agency Swissport to provide ground handling services in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, although it is understood that the agreement covers the entire African operation of FastJet, at least where Swissport is present and licensed.
In related news it was confirmed by a usually well informed source that FastJet has appointed additional senior staff, bringing on board from EasyJet Bob Bishton as COO and from Ryan Air H. Cordan as Chief of Flight Operations, besides the already announced appointment of Kayle Haywood as Regional General Manager – all of them reporting to CEO Ed Winter.
A different aviation source from Nairobi had this to say overnight: ’With Stelios on board they may have a good source of aviation knowledge backing them but all those in the top echelons have European experience and know not a thing about the East African aviation market. When they send their consultants to our parts to fact find and write about viability and feasibility, you think we tell those guys what we put in our water to make it taste better? They are told what they expect to hear, what they want to hear and then, armed with their European experience, they produce a shining bound document which is far from reality. Did they really capture the current traffic levels between Tanzania and Kenya and seen how that translates into point to point traffic and those connecting with Kenya Airways mainly to the African and international network. You in Uganda admit you only have about 20 percent of all passengers as point to point traffic. And for that Air Uganda and 540 had to compete with KQ which offers a better loyalty programme, has more flights. From Dar it is even more difficult because Precision is in the KQ camp and that leaves ATCL when or if they resume to Nairobi. Now I wonder what the fancy studies of FastJet actually says about that constellation. If they want to fly three times a day that is like you said yesterday about 460 plus seats. What passenger loads you think they need to break even with such fares, even considering that they will ask say 80 Dollars fare, PLUS the fees and taxes and other charges they have failed to disclose until now, from those who book late as we normally do here.
First those booking late will be angry because they have all been wound up by the talk of 20 Dollar fares and do not want to know why they have to pay more. That is what they remember and that is what they expect to pay, otherwise they will start shouting liar liar. So loads, say 85 percent to make ends meet? Where will those passengers come from. Maybe I miss something after working more than 25 years in this industry but believe me it is rather that they have missed some important piece of information here and that will be costly. As an aviator I wish them well because that is what we do but financially it seems like a pre programmed crash’.
Time for sure will tell how the story ends, in a fairy tale like ‘happily forever after’ or by shareholders, directors and management coming to blows, figuratively speaking only of course, when the money is gone and creditors loom large. Watch this space.