FASTJET APPEARS SET TO ACQUIRE 1TIME IN SOUTH AFRICA
While only just starting to sell tickets in Tanzania, with flight operations still weeks away, it appears that the FastJet owners have a healthy appetite for yet more, as news have emerged from South Africa that the company is aiming at taking over 1Time, a low cost carrier presently not flying as all operations were suspended over a lack of cash some weeks ago. The South African domestic and regional market is arguably one of the most lucrative in Africa, making the country in fact a prime target for FastJet, leaving one to wonder why they have not more aggressively pursued that strategy in the first place instead of opting to commence operations on the continent in Tanzania, where they will be facing strong headwind from Precision Air, a partner of Kenya Airways, and of Air Tanzania, which is presently receiving overt and covert support from government so ensure its survival in an increasingly crowded domestic market.
Ticket sales by FastJet have commenced earlier this week, for the first time exposing potential customers to the full range of add on charges, the airline demands before one of their 20 Dollar tickets can be issued, with the 20 dollar fare of course subject to time limits beyond reach for most current travelers using air transport and used to booking today for their flight tomorrow. Small print informs travelers of a 5 US Dollar charge for a piece of checked baggage and there is suspicion, undoubtedly fueled by competitors, that there may yet be more charges at the airport hidden somewhere in the smallest of small prints.
South Africa in contrast has a more developed aviation market compared to Tanzania and should FastJet manage to take over 1Time and in the process obtain an existing AOC and Air Service License, this would be making their entry to South Africa much easier and give them a more reliable revenue base. With a base in South Africa it would then be considerably easier to spread to the more lucrative markets in Angola and West Africa compared to having to battle in East Africa with the inherited problems and reputation of its predecessor airline and their ‘management’. Watch this space.