The Star (Nairobi)

19 December 2012

Kenya: Fastjet Starts Talks With Emirates

LOW cost carrier FastJet has confirmed that it is in talks with Emirates for a possible partnership after the latter expressed its desire to partner with the regional airline two weeks ago.

The budget airline started operations in Tanzania last month and is expected to launch in Kenya next year to boost air travel through low fares. FastJet, in a post on its website, said the Tanzania launch has received overwhelming market response with flights between Dar es Salaam to Mwanza and Kilimanjaro routes being booked to as far as March 2013.

"A partnership would benefit both fastjet and Emirates with greater passenger traffic and would give travellers in Africa the opportunity to connect to the rest of the world through Emirates' Dubai hub with Fastjet providing passengers from African cities," said FastJet CEO Ed Winter.

Earlier this month, during a visit to Nairobi, Emirates senior vice president for Africa operations Jean-Luc Grillet said the Dubai based airline was keen on teaming up with FastJet to improve its market appeal.

FastJet is the first ever budget airline in the continent charging fares as low as Sh1,200 for regional routes albeit without the frills that come with air travel like meals. The fare only covers the seat and taxes.

By end of first week after launching in Tanzania, the airline had sold 18,090 tickets to the two destinations Dar es Salaam and Mwanza. The airline's passenger numbers in November-which incorporated the first week of Tanzania operations-rose to 64,670 from 43,049 over the same period last year.

After full rollout expected next year, FastJet will operate from four hubs in Ghana, Angola, Tanzania and Nairobi. FastJet was formed after investors bought Fly540 and rebranded it to FastJet to operate a budget carrier modeled along the likes of Easy Jet which is one of Europe's largest low cost airlines.

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