Fastjet has launched as a low-cost airline in Tanzania, with its inaugural commercial flights taking place today.
The first flight- from Dar-es-Salaam to Mwanza – took off at 6 am this morning to no difficulties, shortly followed by a second flight to Kilimanjaro.
The first aircraft – an Airbus A319 – was almost full to capacity, the $20 plus taxes seats having been on sale for the past two weeks.
Since launching web sales two weeks ago, Fastjet has seen a strong interest from customers, although it remains to be seen whether the African audience will be won over by the low-cost model of the airline. Most airlines currently operating in Africa – with the exception of South Africa – run on a more high-end model, and even Fastjet officials have admitted it may be difficult to win over Africans who will not be used to paying for meals and refreshments, and having little seat and leg room.
Richard Bodin, Chief Commercial Officer at Fastjet commented on the launch of operations today, hailing the start of a project that the company hopes will change long-distance travel in Africa, saying: “Today’s flights to Kilimanjaro and Mwanza mark the start of a new, revolutionary, smart way to travel for African people, and our first steps towards becoming a low cost, reliable pan-African airline.”
Fastjet is aiming to undercut the long-distance buses used by the majority of travellers on the African continent, and hopes to see a shift in the concept of travelling with even low-income travellers looking to the airspace for affordable travel opportunities.
The carrier has initially launched in Tanzania, but hopes to see a rapid expansion across the African continent- already planning a second hub in Nairobi.