FAST JET SELECTS TANZANIA AS AFRICAN START UP COUNTRY
A periodic source from the UKs aviation industry has passed information that Tanzania has been selected as the first country to commence FastJet operations in Eastern Africa, no surprise to regional aviation pundits who have harboured doubts about Kenya being the first as a result of ongoing wrangles with managers associated with Fly540, generally thought of as considered unfit by the promoters of new outfit FastJet to serve under the new setup.
Subject to regulatory approvals flights should commence by November this year, though this time frame may not have taken into account the often foot dragging attitude of regulators in East Africa, some of whom have been described by an aviation source on attachment in East Africa to improve aviation regulatory standards as non descript office moles with no understanding of aviation at all.
It has been ascertained since receiving the information that apparently an A319 aircraft has been leased from BBAM and will be positioned to Dar es Salaam sometime in October to start the process of registering the aircraft and having the mandatory inspections carried out by the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority. Recruitment of staff is reportedly ongoing too, to have all ready to go when the first flight will eventually be launched.
With fares projected to be as low as 20 US Dollars per sector, PLUS the huge regulatory fees and other charges like airport taxes that is, the new airline is bound to raise fresh interest in Tanzanias aviation industry which has been dominated by Precision Air and the constant on off on off by moribund state carrier Air Tanzania. The latter has been perceived as at best making a limited comeback courtesy of public resources being poured into it and at worst lingering along on the ground more than in the air with presently no functioning aircraft and engulfed in yet more legal troubles over the lease of an aged B737-500, which as predicted was found too expensive and probably also too large to resume operations with, before the airline pulled the plug after leaking money as if there was no tomorrow.
Routes to be flown by FastJet are, again subject to regulatory approvals, thought to be Kilimanjaro and Mwanza to start with before expanding into the region with such destinations as Nairobi, though the 150 or so capacity of the A319 in an all economy configuration will be a challenge to fill, considering existing competition and the inevitable market reaction of both Precision Air and partner Kenya Airways vis a vis both fares and additional bonuses for holders of frequent flyer memberships.
Watch this space for breaking and regular aviation news from East Africas vibrant aviation sector.