Dar es Salaam
Fastjet Tanzania has signalled its intention to disengage from its parent company in the UK to become a fully locally owned airline.
The company on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, announced the appointment of Mr Lawrence Masha its first executive chairman, the strongest indication yet of the plan to disengage from Fastjet Plc.
The appointment of the former cabinet minister who is also a minority shareholder in the airline is one of the planned interventions to steady the airline from operational crosswinds.
Fastjet Plc. CEO Nico Bezuidenhout recently issued a red alert on the company over mounting debts and inability to fund day-to-day operations.
He said they were considering closing the Tanzania operations should shareholders not urgently pump in more liquidity.
Fastjet Plc announced half-year operational loss of $14.6 million (over TSh33 billion, Ksh1.47 billion) in June as opposed to $13.2 million over the same period last year.
The company planned to raise $44 million (Over TSh100 billion, Ksh1.95 billion) last year September but only managed $28 million.
The airline’s majority shareholders feel it was untenable to continue bailing out the loss making company.
Fastjet Plc operations are anchored in Tanzania from where it flies to a few countries but has recently struggled to get enough traffic while regulatory bottlenecks have delayed plans to scale down operations by deploying the cheaper and efficient ATR aircraft.
Mr Masha would therefore be expected to quickly oversee a turnaround strategy that include making the airline wholly owned by Tanzanians.
“Mr Masha will be working closely with the company’s management team to oversee the smooth operation of the airline and the (equity) buyout which is currently in progress,” Fastjet Tanzania general manager, Mr Derrick Luembe, said in a statement seen by The Citizen.
Details of the plan by Fastjet Tanzania to purchase all stake from the mother company will likely be made public tomorrow November 9, 2018 at a planned briefing of the media.
“We are optimistic that Mr Masha’s experience in various sectors will help us attain our set goals,” said Mr Luembe.
Mr Masha is also chairman of Board of Tanga Cement and Ecoprotection. He is also a member of the Board of the Newforest Company and managing partner of Gabriel and Co. Attorneys.
“As a former minister for Home Affairs, deputy minister for the then ministry of Energy and Minerals and managing director of Tanzania Oxygen Limited , the board has confidence that under his stewardship the airline will grow stronger,” said Mr Luembe.
Fastjet Tanzania has over its six years of operations carried more than 2.5 million passengers in Tanzania alone.
The budget career, which operates flights between Dar es salaam and Mwanza, Mbeya, Kilimanjaro, Lusaka and Zimbabwe, records an average of 30,000 passengers on a monthly basis.
Fastjet Tanzania Plc was founded in November 29, 2012 after the acquisition of Fly540 in the same year. It runs a fleet of two Embraer E190 aircraft.