Budget airline, Fastjet, has set its eyes on entering the Kenyan market one month after it disposed its loss-making investment stake at Fly540 Kenya.
Fastjet which has an operating base in Tanzania said Tuesday that it is currently seeking approval from the Kenyan government for local operations.
The carrier is set to name new joint-venture partners for the Kenyan business.
“We have always stated intent to bring great value and reliability to Kenyan air travellers with the Fastjet brand. Having now disposed of our interest in Fly540 Kenya we are able to start afresh with a model similar to Fastjet Tanzania,” said Ed Winter, the Fastjet CEO, in an e-mail interview from the United Kingdom.
Fastjet currently operates flights in Tanzania, South Africa and Zambia.
Harare in Zimbabwe will become the carrier’s third international route in August, with the launch of two weekly flights.
“We have not yet announced a start date but this will be very much influenced by the timing of government approvals,” said Mr Winter, declining, however to disclose the airline’s capital outlay for the venture.
Mr Winter noted that Fastjet would be coming to the market with a lower cost structure to stimulate demand in both the domestic and international markets.
Fastjet would face stiff competition from Fly540 and Kenya Airways’ recently launched subsidiary Jambojet, which have currently cemented their place in the market as low cost carriers.
Jambojet currently flies to Kisumu, Eldoret and Mombasa from Nairobi; with plans to start flying to Bujumbura, Kigali, Juba, Goma, Mwanza, Zanzibar, Kilimanjaro and Addis Ababa. Fly540 also have local presence in almost above territories.
A report published by Centreforaviation.com about three months ago indicated that the airline had already secured Sh2.2 billion ($25 million) in capital from new investors to enable their expansion and was scheduled to start operations starting early next year.
Mr Winter however declined to comment on this issue.
However, he said the airline will start operation with the introduction of three Airbus A 319 aircraft which could be increased based on market demand.
“That will require many millions of dollars in capital,” he said.
Fastjet is also planning to scale up expansion over the next 18 months with several new international routes from its Tanzania base and the launch of three new affiliates.
Fastjet launched services in late Nov-2012 with a fleet of two A319s serving the Tanzanian domestic market. It added a third aircraft by the end of 2012 but has since repeatedly delayed fleet expansion due primarily to regulatory setbacks in trying to expand its international network and portfolio.
“The group will continue to evaluate re-entering Angola and Ghana using its A319 fleet and the fastjet brand but for now the focus is on Kenya, Zambia and South Africa,” Mr Winter had earlier told Centreforaviation.com.
Fastjet had earlier signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Kenyan airline Jetlink Express to provide a platform for launching operations in the country.
The partnership was never implemented. In November 2012,Jetlink Express collapsed due to financial related constrains.