Low cost carrier, FastJet Zimbabwe has opened a new regional link between Bulawayo and Johannesburg bringing double morning and evening flights from Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport to OR Tambo International Airport and vice-verse every weekday with an evening schedule on Sundays, 263Chat Business can report.
The development will see the airliner service 22 scheduled flights per week on this 1 hour 20 minutes route.
Speaking on the sidelines of the launch just before the inaugural flight from Bulawayo to Johannesburg took off yesterday evening, FastJet Zimbabwe CEO, Joao Sousa said linking Bulawayo with OR Tambo International Airport -dubbed the gateway for international travel into Africa, presented unfettered access and immense opportunities for the country's second largest city.
"We will fly from Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo, International Airport, to OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, where travellers may connect to multiple global destinations on the services of ticketing airline partners Qatar Airways, Emirates Airline or an airline of choice. The new route schedule will increase Fastjet's daily flights across the network to 114 flights per week,"
"We are providing our service to one of the important cities in Zimbabwe and make travel, business and trading for the people easy. Our commitment speaks for itself before we are going to have two flights in both directions every day,"
"We believe that what we are doing is correct. It is a well thought deployment so we analyzed the route, we analyzed our competitors and most importantly our customers so we provided solutions," Sousa said.
The new route will complement FastJet's flagship flight which connects Harare and Johannesburg.
Bulawayo's captains of industry and business welcomed the development as a timely intervention expected to stimulate air connectivity in the city.
"It's a positive step for us because we really need more planes connecting here as this will stimulate economic activity in the city," Bulawayo Mayor, Solomon Mguni said.
The route will be operated by the company's Embraer ERJ145, which offers travellers an exclusive seating configuration of either a window or aisle seat and the convenient drop and fly cabin baggage service.
However, FastJet's expansion of its network into the vast region comes at a time most African airlines, both the state-owned and the private low-cost carriers are struggling to remain afloat.
In Zimbabwe's case, air travel has been mainly affected by the erosion of disposable incomes due to rapid inflation and a generally sluggish economic environment- yet Soasa remains optimistic, "We know there is a difficult economic environment but at the same time Zimbabweans are resilient and we believe that it's something that will be over in a short moment so we have to position ourselves in the future,"
Fastjet connects Zimbabwe by flying between Harare and Victoria Falls, Harare and Bulawayo, Harare and Victoria Falls to Johannesburg in South Africa and the latest one, Bulawayo to Johannesburg.