27 February 2013

Tanzania: Fastjet Toasts 75,000th Passenger

FASTJET has achieved what it calls a milestone in just two months since its inaugural flight to register its 75,000th passenger. To celebrate the achievement, the first Pan-African low cost airline has named one of its aircraft after a customer, Veronica Chuwa.

The passenger, who came 75,000th, on the list of fliers with FastJet was to appear, from on Thursday, on one of the three Airbus 319s for the duration of the coming year. Mrs Chuwa, who travelled last month was also presented with two complementary tickets to mark the 75,000 travellers and this has been termed as the best shortest milestone in history.

FastJet's General Manager in Africa, Kyle Haywood, said the number of passengers booking flights with FastJet has been consistently high, with an average load factor of over 70 per cent."This is testament of the genuine demand for low-cost air travel among Tanzanians," Mr Haywood, who is based in Dar es Salaam, told journalists.

The GM used the occasion to assure the public that the airline has a long vision in the country of hooking many non-airline travellers to fly by minimizing distribution costs in favour of passengers."We are happy to keep and see to it that the same passengers are coming back. We have also developed sales of tickets using M-Pesa to ease as much as possible distribution costs," Mr Haywood said.

He said, M-Pesa ticketing totalled eight per cent of total sales. He said staring today the no-frill airline sales two new destinations tickets - Kilimanjaro-Zanzibar and Kilimanjaro-Mwanza - on daily basis and flight will be introduced on March 18."This is second phase of our business plan after being satisfied with smooth operation of the first phase." Mr Haywood said, "the third phase is international destinations."

Talking about Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) outstanding liabilities of 3bn/- inherited from Fly540, the Country Director said at the moment they are doing validation with taxman to quantify the actual amount prior to payment."First of all the debt would not jeopardize the operation of FastJet. We will pay the dues but we need to see supporting documents before we make the payment," Mr Haywood said.

He added: "We are in dialogue with TRA and Tanzania Airports Authority (TAA) over these historical bills."TRA Acting Director of Taxpayers Service and Education Allan Kiula said he was aware of the matter but should be given time to contact the relevant office, Ilala tax region, to ascertain the progress.

Regarding violating Air Operation Certificate (AOC) regulations that stated that the principal office should be in Tanzania and not Gatwick, London, the airline said its Africa operation hub is in Dar es Salaam and only top officers, such as Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operation Officer and Head of Marketing are based in London."The rest are in Dar es Salaam, including myself and over 200 members of staff mostly Tanzanians," he said.

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