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FSJ-TANZANIA AIRPORTS - 2013-03
FSJ-TANZANIA TOP 12 AIRLINES - 2013-03
FSJ-VISIT TANZANIA - 2012-12
Formed and started operations in 2012. Domestic, regional, & international, scheduled & charter, passenger & cargo jet airplane services.
P O Box 38639 Upanga
Plot No 767/39, Suite No 1
The United Republic of Tanzania (Jamhouri ya Mwungano wa Tanzania), including the half-autonomous island of Zanzibar) was established in 1964, it covers an area of 945,087 sq km, its population is 30 million, its capital cities are Dodoma and Dar-es-Salaam, and its official languages are Swahili and English.
January 2012: FastJet (FSJ) is reportedly the name of a new low-cost carrier (LCC) easyJet (EZY) founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou is planning to set-up. There have been various different reports about Stelios’ plans for the carrier but no confirmation yet if such plans even exist. Some reports suggest a new transatlantic carrier is in the works, others mention Africa or Latin America as potential bases for the new airline.
March 2012: Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou’s latest venture, start-up African Low Cost Carrier (LCC) Fastjet.com, is preparing to launch operations later this year from a base in West Africa, mostly likely Accra in Ghana. The new carrier aims to introduce affordable air travel for Africans to facilitate inter-regional tourism and business travel. Accra Kotoka Airport, the only hub in the diverse and fast-growing Ghanaian market, is expected to handle over >10,000 passengers per day by 2030, making it one of the six largest airports in Africa.
Sir Stelios' easyGroup management team has been working on a feasibility study that is expected to recommend Fastjet.com connect six West African countries to Accra, with the possibility of expanding to 15 countries at a later date. According to reports in "The Financial Times," Fastjet.com is considering leasing 15 airplames and will launch operations within the new few months.
If successful in Ghana, Fastjet.com would like to expand across Africa and become the first pan-African carrier. Attempts by (LCC) Fly540, which now operates in three East African countries and plans to work with Fastjet.com in West Africa, to become pan-African, have until now been stalled by external obstacles.
May 2012: Fastjet (FSJ) plans to lease up to 15 airplanes for its new low-cost carrier (LCC) operation based at Accra Kotoka (ACC) airport. The new carrier is backed by Rubicon Diversified Investments and the EasyGroup owned by easyJet (EZY) founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.
June 2012: EasyJet (EZY) founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou will call his new low-cost carrier (LCC) "Fastjet" (FSJ) and base it in Africa.
The new (LCC), which will be based on the platform created by Lonrho Aviation’s Fly540 network, will transform Nairobi-based Fly540 into a low-cost, point-to-point, no frills, all-jet airline for Africa.
Sir Haji-Ioannou first revealed plans to launch the airline last fall, causing a row with the easyJet (EZY) board.
In May, Sir Haji-Ioannou’s easyGroup awarded Rubicon Diversified Investments (a company focused on aviation acquisitions particularly in Africa) a 10-year license to use the "Fastjet" brand. The deal is conditional on Rubicon acquiring Lonrho Aviation, which has already established low-cost operations under the Fly540 brand in East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania), Angola, and Ghana.
Fly540 recorded turnover of $57 million and carried 525,375 passengers in the 15 months to December 31, 2011. During that period, it posted a loss of -$19 million after tax, largely due to the launch of the Angola and Ghana operations.
If approved by shareholders at a July 29 meeting, Rubicon will take over Lonrho’s aviation division for a shareholding valued at $85.7 million, giving Lonrho a 73.7% stake in Rubicon.
In return for the use of the Fastjet brand, easyGroup will receive a royalty of 0.5% of revenues and 5% of Rubicon's issued share capital with an option to acquire a further 10% at a premium. The EasyGroup will also provide consultancy services to Rubicon throughout the 10-year term.
In addition, easyGroup will be able to appoint two directors to the Rubicon board. One will be Ed Winter, former (COO) of easyJet (EZY) and Founding Director/(COO) of low-cost carrier Go (GOL), who is earmarked to become Fastjet (CEO) on completion of the deal. Sir Haji-Ioannou is likely to be the other.
Winter said, “The African aviation market is significantly under-served and there are major opportunities for growth. With rising gross domestic product (GDP) and consumer spending, plus changing demographics, Africa is ripe for a democratization of air travel.”
September 2012: Fly SAX (EFZ) (IATA) Code: B5) is the new name of Kenyan regional carrier East African Express which currently operates a single DC-9-14 (45725, 5Y-XXA) and a Fokker 28-4000 (11229, 5Y-EEE) on domestic services. Fly SAX is owned by Fly540 ((IATA) Code: 5H, based at Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International airport (NBO)) and it is unclear what role if any it will play following the transition of Fly540 and its subsidiaries to pan-African, low-cost carrier (LCC) Fastjet (Accra Kotoka (ACC)).
Fly540 Ghana ((IATA) Code: 5G, based at Accra Kotoka Airport (ACC)) has now launched its international expansion, already serving Abidjan Felix Houphouet Boigny Airport (ABJ) 5x-weekly from Accra Kotoka (ACC) and launching flights to Freetown Lungi International airport (FNA) 4x-weekly from September 14, to Monrovia Spriggs Payne airport (MLW) 3x-weekly from September 18, and to Lagos Murtala Muhammad airport (LOS) 5x-weekly from September 24. It currently operates an ATR 72-500 and an E170 and is expected to be the first carrier to operate under the new Fastjet (FSJ)) (based at Accra Kotoka (ACC)) brand soon.
October 2012: Fastjet (FSJ) has signed a lease agreement with Swedish lessor Volito Aviation for two additional A319-100s. It plans to launch operations in November between Dar-es-Salaam (DAR) and Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International (NBO) with a single ex-easyJet (EZY) A319-111 (2176) currently being prepared at London Southend (SEN) airport.
November 2012: Fastjet (FSJ) ((IATA) Code: FN; (ICAO) Code: FTZ) has revised its initial route network plans and its (CEO), Ed Winter has now said that it expects to initially put seats on sale for domestic flights from Dar es Salaam to Kilimanjaro (JRO) and Mwanza (MWZ) with services starting from the end of November. In a second phase, it will be expanding with additional A319-100s offering international flights to Entebbe/Kampala International (EBB), Juba (JUB), Kigali Kanombe (KGL) and Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International (NBO).
(FSJ) has replaced sister carrier Fly540 ((IATA) Code: 5H, (ICAO) Code: FFV (Callsign: SWIFT TANGO), based at Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (NBO)) after launching initial operations with three A319-100s in Tanzania. (FSJ) then plans to launch operations in Ghana, and thereafter with Angola being #4 on its priority list.
(FSJ) has announced that it plans to raise additional $2.4 million USD in capital by issuing new shares at the London Stock Exchange. It plans to use the funds to expand in "Southern Africa" earlier than it had anticipated. (FSJ) is reportedly interested in acquiring the operating license and some assets of bankrupt South African low-cost carrier 1time airline (1TA) based at Johannesburg Oliver Reginald Tambo International (JNB) airport.
December 2012: New pan-African low-cost carrier (LCC) start-up, Fastjet (FSJ) confirmed it is in negotiations to buy 1time Airline (1TA), the South African (LCC) that went into liquidation last month.
The proposed transaction (which is subject to the board, parent 1time Holdings and regulatory approval) would involve Fastjet (FSJ) paying a nominal fee for the purchase of 1time (1TA) and reaching a settlement with (1TA) creditors.
(FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter said: “If this transaction goes ahead (and the timescales are extremely challenging) we would hope to get (1TA) flying again in time for the Christmas holiday period.”
Flights would initially be operated using (1TA)’s fleet of McDonnell Douglas MD-82s, MD-83s and MD-87s, but Winter said restructuring plans would see a rapid re-fleeting with modern A319 airplanes. “The acquisition of 1time (1TA) would be a complementary strategic fit for (FSJ)’s growth into a pan-African (LCC) and the synergies with (FSJ) would potentially increase the number of available route networks from South Africa into the rest of Africa. 1time (1TA) would be rebranded into the Fastjet brand and sold through fastjet.com,” Winter said.
Later, (FSJ) signed a provisional deal to acquire 100% of 1time (1TA) for ZAR1/$0.12). (1TA) operated 12 MD-80s across a network of eight routes and carried 120,000 passengers a month. (FSJ) wants to acquire more African Air Operator Certificate(AOC)s and began talks to buy (1TA) earlier this month. “(FSJ) has entered into an option agreement to buy the entire issued share capital of (1TA) from its parent company, 1time Holdings Limited, for ZAR1/$0.12.”
The deal is conditional on UK and South African regulatory approval. The airlines will also need the go-ahead from both sets of shareholders and (1TA) will need to reach a court settlement with its creditors.
(FSJ) (CEO) Ed Winter said, “Due to protracted negotiations, we will not have (1TA) flying before Christmas but very much hope that (1TA) will be flying again early in the new year.”
If the deal is approved, Winter said the company will retain many of (1TA)’s staff and will re-brand the airline as Fastjet. It will initially take on “up to three” of (1TA)’s 12 MD-82s, MD-83s and MD-87s on new operating lease agreements, although “in due course” these will be replaced by A319s.
Through the deal, (FSJ) will gain the right to operate domestic and regional air services in South Africa. (FSJ) plans to initially operate from Johannesburg to Cape Town D F Malan International (CPT), Dar-es-Salaam (DAR), East London (ELS) and Port Elizabeth (PLZ) with its new South African subsidiary.
(FSJ), which began flying last month, has three A319s serving two domestic Tanzanian routes: Dar es Salaam to Mwanza and Kilimanjaro. It plans to open a second hub in Nairobi in Kenya in the spring, followed by hubs in Ghana and Angola. By May, it will operate five airplanes, growing to up to 15 airplanes within its first year of operations.
Backed by (EZY) founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, (FSJ) has also confirmed it is in talks about a potential partnership with Emirates (EAD).
According to (FSJ), Emirates (EAD) Senior VP Commercial Operations for Africa, Jean-Luc Grillet has been recently quoted as saying: “We are willing to work with (FSJ). It is an independent carrier and that makes our work easy.”
Winter said the talks were “at an early stage,” but insisted this represented “a great opportunity for both parties.” He explained: “(EAD) currently flies to 24 destinations in Africa, while (FSJ) launched its operations in Tanzania last month and plans to become a pan-African carrier. A partnership would benefit both (FSJ) and (EAD) with greater passenger traffic and would give travelers in Africa the opportunity to connect to the rest of the world through (EAD)’s Dubai hub, with (FSJ) providing passengers from African cities.”
(FSJ) will expand its routes after recently launching operations. (FSJ), which began operations on November 29, said it carried 6,884 passengers in its first week of operations, with an average load factor of 85.4% LF. (FSJ) began operations from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to two domestic destinations of Mwanza and Kilimanjaro.
(FSJ) has sold 18,090 tickets to the two launch destinations, with bookings now being taken as far out as March 2013.
(FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter said: "We are looking forward to having all three initial A319s fully operational over the coming weeks so that we can adequately cater for the expected holiday surge.”
With an aggressive growth strategy, (FSJ) has increased its working capital by just over >£2.5 million/$4 million through a placing with an existing institutional investor and a draw down on its £5 million Equity Financing Facility (EFF) with Darwin Strategic Limited, a majority-owned subsidiary of Henderson Global Investors Volantis Fund.
January 2013: Africa's first low-cost carrier (LCC), Fastjet (FSJ), achieved a load factor of 78% LF on November 28 — not bad for its first day of operations. But the jury is still out as to whether the low-cost model will work in Africa, or if the lack of infrastructure and liberalization as well as political opposition will prevent it from becoming as successful as it is in most other parts of the world. (FSJ) plans to operate up to 15 airplanes by the end of 2013 and wants to expand beyond its initial base in Tanzania, at least to neighboring Kenya. But the real breakthrough will come if (FSJ) becomes established in the south and west of Africa.
(FSJ) will soon detail plans to serve Entebbe in Uganda, Johannesburg in South Africa and Moroni in the Comoros Islands.
(FSJ) has signed a memorandum of understanding with grounded Kenyan airline Jetlink Express, paving the way for a joint venture (JV). The deal, subject to approval, will launch the Fastjet brand in Kenya.
Jetlink Express, which launched in 2004, temporarily suspended operations in November 2012. It has traffic rights for all Kenyan domestic and a number of regional destinations. “Discussions are progressing well,” (FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter said, adding the (JV) is an “important step” in (FSJ)’s strategy.” However, he stressed the “talks are not yet finalized.”
(FSJ), which launched in November 2012, already has a Kenyan air operator’s certificate (AOC) through its acquisition of Kenyan regional carrier Fly540, along with its sister companies in Angola, Ghana, and Tanzania.
(FSJ) operates two domestic routes from Dar es Salaam and it is planning to add international services soon. It wants to acquire more African (AOC)s and has already inked a provisional deal to acquire South African low-cost carrier (LCC) 1time (1TA), which went into liquidation in November 2012.
Five Forty Aviation is demanding $6.8 million in unpaid debts from Lonrho Aviation, which is now operating as African-low-cost carrier Fastjet (FSJ). The $6,783,551.67 payment is alleged to cover financial support for Fly540 Tanzania, Angola, Ghana and elsewhere.
“Five Forty Aviation confirms that it has instructed its lawyers to recover an acknowledged debt of $6.8 million from Lonrho Aviation,” Five Forty Aviation said, claiming that Lonrho acknowledged the debt in a letter dated March 22, 2012. However, Fastjet (FSJ) has disputed the claim, saying that the purchase of Five Forty Aviation (its Kenyan subsidiary) has been fully consummated.
“Five Forty Aviation (CEO), Don Smith and his partners have been paid all amounts due to them, a total sum of $6.75 million. Mr Smith certified in a document signed by him on July 24, 2012 that, other than specified liabilities as set out in the document, there is no other liability or indebtedness due to him or any entity controlled by him. There has never been any agreement that Lonrho Aviation would pay Mr Smith a further sum of $7 million.”
(FSJ), which started operations in November 2012, operates three A319s serving two domestic Tanzanian routes: Dar es Salaam to Mwanza and Kilimanjaro. The new airline was created when easyJet (EZY) Founder, Stelios Haji-Ioannou granted Rubicon Diversified Investments the brand license for (FSJ), conditional on Rubicon acquiring Lonrho Aviation’s aviation division, which included Five Forty Aviation’s Fly540 airline operations in Kenya, Tanzania, Angola, and Ghana.
February 2013: Five Forty Aviation has withdrawn the brand license for African low-cost carrier (LCC) Fastjet (FSJ). It claims unpaid debts, breech of brand license and questions (FSJ)’s safety standards.
Fastjet (FSJ) has rebutted all the allegations, which mark an escalation of earlier claims, and has threatened counter-legal action against Five Forty Aviation.
The dispute dates back to the original deal that created FastJet (FSJ). In June 2012, FastJet (FSJ) (formerly known as Rubicon Diversified Investments) acquired Lonrho Aviation, which owned regional airlines Fly540 Angola, Fly540 Ghana and Fly540 Tanzania. The Fly540 brand was licensed to Lonrho by Five Forty Aviation.
However, Five Forty Aviation claims Fastjet (FSJ) owes $7.7 million in unpaid license fees. It also accuses (FSJ) of failing to submit financial data for December 2012 and provide safety and quality compliance information. “We had no choice but to take this action because the most worrying aspect of non-compliance with the licensing agreement is that we have no way of assuring that the planes are safe to fly. We have not received any safety reports for the past three months from (FSJ)’s Africa operations,” Five Forty Aviation (CEO), Don Smith said.
Five Forty Aviation has instructed (FSJ) to remove all Fly540 branding and repaint three Fly540-branded planes in Angola and two in Ghana in a neutral color. “Also, as per the license agreement, the company has written to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in all three countries informing them of the withdrawal of the licenses,” Five Forty Aviation said.
(FSJ) refutes Smith’s allegations, labeling them as “false and damaging” and arguing that Five Forty Aviation is powerless to terminate the brand license agreement, as it has already paid $6 million to acquire Fly540 and its associated brands. (FSJ) will now “aggressively” seek enforcement of this purchase contract and is preparing to take legal action if Smith continues with his claims.
“The company will not tolerate coercive and underhanded practices. Issues created by Don Smith in Kenya have not and will not affect Fastjet (FSJ)’s overall plan of becoming Africa’s first pan-continental low-cost carrier (LCC),” Fastjet (FSJ) Chairman, David Lenigas said.
Smith is also (CEO) of Fly540 Kenya, but Lenigas said (FSJ)’s Kenyan expansion has already been secured through its Memo of Understanding (MOU) with Jetlink.
Lenigas added that some undisclosed historic debts had come to light since the Fly540 acquisition and said FastJet (FSJ) is working with creditors to resolve the situation. “Fastjet (FSJ) will seek to recover these undisclosed debts and any other amounts due under the warranties given by Don Smith and his partners in their agreement to sell their interest in Fly540 Kenya to (FSJ) in June last year.”
A (FSJ) spokeswoman added that Fly540 is now just a “placeholder brand,” which is being phased out.
Later, FastJet (FSJ) stated it had raised £4 million/$6.2 million in fresh working capital, sourced from current and new investors and by drawing down on a credit facility. A (FSJ) spokeswoman said the funds would be “deployed in fulfillment of (FSJ)’s stated growth strategy,” without giving any further information.
However, in an earlier statement, (FSJ) indicated that the extra working capital would be used to support its South African expansion. (FSJ) has already struck a deal to acquire South African carrier 1time (1TA), which went into liquidation in November and it is also pursuing a joint venture (JV) with Kenyan carrier, Jetlink Express.
When asked whether the funds were for the 1time (1TA) deal, the spokeswoman replied: “Discussions between (FSJ) and relevant authorities regarding (1TA) are on-going. There’s nothing further to say on this at the moment.”
Returning to the details of the funding, (FSJ) said it has inked “legally bonding contracts” for £3.5 million of the £4 million total, prompting it to issue 155.6 million new shares. “Once all the funds have been cleared, the placing will be completed and the company will make an announcement of the issue of the placing shares and their date of admission to [London Stock Exchange] Alternative Investment Market (AIM),” (FSJ) said.
The remaining £528,125 of the capital boost will come from an existing financing facility with Darwin Strategic, part of the Henderson Global Investors Volantis Fund. Under this transaction (FSJ) will issue Darwin with 16.3 million shares. This block of shares is expected to begin trading on (AIM) on February 15.
Following the fund raising exercise, (FSJ) will have a total of 2,072,416,561 ordinary shares with voting rights.
(FSJ) is currently locked in a hostile dispute with Five Forty Aviation, which dates back to acquisitions made to create FastJet (FSJ).
March 2013: FastJet (FSJ), one of Africa’s youngest airlines, which only launched its operations in late November last year, further expanded its domestic operation in Tanzania, as it launched flights from Kilimanjaro (JRO) to both Mwanza (MWZ) and Zanzibar (ZNZ). Daily, A319-operated services are offered on each route. Precision Air (PRT) provides competition in both markets operating daily flights to Mwanza and four daily to Zanzibar. Additional competition on the latter route comes from Fly540, which serves it with 2x-weekly flights.
Fastjet (FSJ) has turned to the UK legal system in a bid to end the ongoing dispute with Five Forty Aviation over rights to use the "Fly540" brand. (FSJ) said it had “issued proceedings in the High Court of Justice in England” seeking a declaration that it had fulfilled its obligations under the Sale & Purchase Agreement (SPA) made between (FSJ) (formally Rubicon Diversified Investments) and Five Forty Aviation last June. The (SPA) is specifically governed by English Law. (FSJ) is also seeking court confirmation that “it has paid Five Forty Aviation (CEO), Don Smith in full for his shares in Fly540.”
Smith claims (FSJ) still owes Five Forty Aviation nearly $6.8 million, and in retaliation, withdrew the licenses granted to (FSJ) to use the Fly540 brand for its operations in Angola, Ghana and Tanzania.
(FSJ) is also seeking an order from High Court requiring Smith immediately to “hand over all the necessary documents to complete the transfer of control of Fly540 Kenya to (FSJ) and/or its nominees.”
(FSJ) Chairman, David Lenigas said: “We are always reluctant to take legal action to enforce a contract, so we are disappointed that the company has had to resort to this measure to force Mr Smith to complete his part of the commercial transaction that he agreed and signed off in June last year. The company has paid Mr Smith a fair and reasonable price for his controlling interest in Fly540 Kenya and we expect to receive in full what we have paid for.”
Don Smith countered: “They are ignoring the fact that not all obligations of the deal have been fulfilled. Aspects such as the payment of $6.78 million of intra-company debt as well as the issuance of my shares remain outstanding.”
However, Lenigas stressed: “(FSJ) is adamant that Mr Smith has been paid his full consideration and we will now ask the High Court of Justice to rule on this matter. We sincerely hope that the process will be dealt with speedily, so that the unnecessary and apparently contrived confusion surrounding control of the Kenyan operations can finally be put to rest.”
(FSJ) has secured another £15.7 million/$23.4 million in funding and lined up some potential partners, which it hopes will help firm up its planned acquisition of South African budget carrier, 1time (1TA).
(FSJ) Chairman, David Lenigas and (CEO), Ed Winter are traveling to South Africa to meet with 1time (1TA)’s liquidators and hopefully firm up the provisional deal that was struck late last year. (FSJ) has been working with a number of South African-based entities in recent weeks and believes it has now found a solution to secure acceptable partnership arrangements, which ensure that any change of control of 1time (1TA) would comply with current South African laws on foreign ownership. (FSJ) is hopeful that a deal could be finalized, and feels confident that an acceptable solution can now be put to the liquidator so a meeting of creditors might be called,” (FSJ) said.
A (FSJ) spokeswoman said the liquidator recently extended the deadline for a potential (1TA) deal until October. Lenigas claims fares have “skyrocketed” since Johannesburg-based (1TA) went into liquidation in November, with many airplanes operating full on key Cape Town and Durban routes. “We will also be seeking high-level meetings with the aviation authorities to allow Fly540 Tanzania to operate daily services from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Johannesburg,” Lenigas said. (FSJ)’s Tanzanian operation is also just about to launch daily flights between Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar, as well as Kilimanjaro and Mwanza.
Building on a £4 million liquidity boost last month, (FSJ) has just secured a £15.7 million in funding from New York-based Bergen Global Opportunity Fund. It will use the additional cash to support its working capital and expansion plans. “This agreement with Bergen gives us access to very significant funding over the next year on a flexible basis and will provide us with a solid platform on which to grow the business and expand our operations in Africa,” Winter said.
Around the same size in terms of area as Egypt and Nigeria, and with a population similar to the Ukraine but larger than Argentina, Tanzania, on the east coast of Africa has recently been under the global aviation spotlight thanks to the arrival of Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and his pan-African low-cost carrier FastJet (FSJ) in November last year. This month, (FSJ) launched its second tranche of domestic routes in the country, linking Kilimanjaro to both Mwanza and Zanzibar. With (FSJ) carrying close to 100,000 in its first three months of operation and delivering an 81% LF load factor in February, Tanzania’s airports are hoping to break 4 million passengers for the first time in 2013.
With a population close to three million, the port city of Dar es Salaam is the country’s largest, and is indeed its commercial heartbeat. As a result, it dominates in terms of commercial aviation, commanding over >40% of the country’s weekly flights. Over >90% of Tanzania’s passenger activity is concentrated on its largest five airports, namely Dar es Salaam; island territory Zanzibar; Kilimanjaro, serving the region around Africa’s tallest mountain; the country’s second largest city on the shores of Lake Victoria, Mwanza; and Arusha, which is close to the Serengeti National Park.
Tanzania Traffic volumes grew by +10% between 2010 and 2009, outstripping the increase in annual seat volumes, which only rose by +6%. The airlines serving the country reacted positively in the following 12 months, with a +40% hike in seats in 2011, which produced a near +20% increase in passenger numbers as a result. While the Tanzanian (CAA) is yet to publish its passenger figures for 2012, the prospects look positive for continued growth, as the seats available increased again year-on-year, this time by a further +4% – representing nearly +60% more than was on offer in 2009.
The domestic market in Tanzania has the lion’s share of country market flights and seats, however with over 80% of all domestic services operated by 70-, 50- and 19-seat turboprops, its share of seats is significantly smaller than its share of flights. Kenya is the only foreign country with services from more than one airport, with both Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International and Nairobi Wilson Airports represented, along with Mombasa Moi International Airport.
Up until now, FastJet (FSJ) has also concentrated its flying domestically, however, it has also made public its intentions to launch regional services to Entebbe in Uganda and Mombasa and Nairobi in Kenya, which will increase both country’s relative share of the country market data during 2013.
As with many low-cost entries into a new market, like that of (FSJ), there is normally a national carrier who is going to suffer the most at the hands of the newcomer – in Tanzania it’s the de facto national airline, Precision Air (PRT), which has control of nearly 50% of local market in terms of seats and flights. Indeed, all four of (FSJ)’s start-up routes are also operated by Precision Air (PRT). The network of the domestic turboprop operator ZanAir, will probably be lucky enough to escape the attentions of (FSJ), as it primarily links secondary airports across the country, with its highest frequency route (50 weekly departures) being the 70 km hop across Dar es Salaam Bay between Zanzibar and the country’s commercial center.
SEE ATTACHED - - "FSJ-TANZANIA TOP 12 AIRLINES - 2013-03."
Air Tanzania (TNZ) inaugurated services on the 700 km route from Dar es Salaam (DAR) to Moroni (HAH) in the Comoros Islands, on 25 March, a route it last served three years ago. Thrice-weekly flights are now offered on the route and operated using a leased 737-200 in competition with Precision Air (PRT)’s service of the same frequency.
As Precision Air (PRT) currently does not have any long-haul kit, numerous other carriers are sucking passengers out of Tanzania to feed their own respective networks. These include three Middle Eastern carriers Qatar Airways (QTA), Emirates Airline (EAD) and Oman Air (OMR), with the latter offering daily connections from Muscat to Zanzibar, while the remaining two airlines are flying to Dar es Salaam (Qatar (QTA), double daily; Emirates (EAD), daily). Within Africa, Kenya Airways (KEN) and Ethiopian Airlines (ETH) are feeding their respective hubs, while (KLM) and Turkish Airlines (THY) provide the only hub connections to Europe, but as both only operate five weekly frequencies, neither is large enough to feature in the Top 12.
Later in the month, Fastjet (FSJ) filed a letter of intent with the liquidators of failed South African low-cost carrier (LCC) 1time (1TA). Last December, (FSJ)’s management struck a provisional deal to acquire 1time for ZAR1/$0.12. This deal has now come a step closer to fruition, following a meeting between (FSJ) Chairman, David Lenigas, (FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter and 1time (1TA)’s liquidators.
“Fastjet (FSJ) has filed a letter of intent (LOI) with the liquidators of 1time (1TA) in Johannesburg, South Africa, to enable the liquidators to negotiate a compromise settlement with the creditors. This is a major step towards the acquisition of (1TA) and the launch of (FSJ) flights in South Africa,” (FSJ) said to the stock market.
However, the airline also added: “While (1TA) remains firmly (FSJ)’s preferred route, the low-cost carrier (LCC) continues to explore alternative partnerships to launch (FSJ) in South Africa, which will be available if a satisfactory compromise cannot be negotiated with the (1TA) creditors.”
April 2013: Fastjet (FSJ) tired of waiting on its planned acquisition 1time (1TA), is instead planning to launch services in South Africa May 31 in cooperation with South African investment company, Blockbuster.
(FSJ) originally planned to acquire failed South African carrier (1TA) to support its South African launch, but said (1TA)’s value has diminished over time and there is still no indication that (1TA)’s creditors will accept its offer. It has therefore inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Blockbuster, paving the way for the creation of an “entity,” which is 75%-owned by Blockbuster and 25%-owned by (FSJ). Blockbuster has in turn sealed a commercial agreement with local operator Federal Airlines, which will provide an airline platform for the venture.
(FSJ) has also secured commitments for an additional £2 million/$18.3 million in working capital to help support its expansion. “Though we have been in talks with a number of companies regarding licensing arrangements, we have ultimately decided that in order to best serve South African customers, we should invest not in the past, but in the future,” (FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter said.
Tickets could go on sale within a few weeks and (FSJ) is targeting May 31 to launch twice-daily services between Johannesburg and Cape Town. “Flights to other key destinations will be launched once the Cape Town route is established,” (FSJ) Chairman, David Lenigas said.
Separately, the company has signed an (MOU) with Five Forty Aviation (CEO), Don Smith, halting legal action that was launched after a bitter dispute escalated between the two sides. “The signing of this (MOU) provides a positive platform for (FSJ) to strengthen its East African hub. Both (FSJ) and Don Smith are pleased to be putting the unfortunate, highly publicized events of the past few months behind us. Smith remains the (CEO) of the Kenyan business and we are pleased to have him as part of the Fastjet (FSJ)/Fly540 team,” Winter said.
(FSJ) has named former Air Uganda (AUN) (CEO), Kyle Haywood as head of its new South African venture, which is slated to launch May 31.
Earlier this month, (FSJ) inked a deal with South African investment company Blockbuster and its local carrier partner Federal Airlines, paving the way for its entry into the South African market.
Kyle Haywood, (FSJ)'s Managing Director for Africa, has now been named as (CEO) of the new South African operations, effective immediately. Haywood has more than >25 years of airline experience including Area Manager roles for British Airways (BAB) in the UK, South Africa, the Middle East, South America and mainland Europe. He also prepared Etihad (EHD)’s launch in South Africa in 2005 before returning to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as Commercial Director for Air Arabia (ABZ) and moving on to become Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) at Gulf Air (GUL). Most recently he was (CEO) of Air Uganda (AUN).
Blockbuster has changed its name in South Africa to Fastjet Holdings, headed by South African businessmen, Edward Zuma and Yusuf Kajee. Fastjet Holdings will be 75%-owned by Zuma and Kajee, while the remainder will be held by London-based Fastjet (FSJ) plc.
“A commercial arrangement has been struck between Fastjet Holdings and local operator Federal Air, which will allow Fastjet (FSJ) to leverage Federal Air’s existing licensing infrastructure and deliver its proven low-cost carrier (LCC) model to the South African public,” Fastjet (FSJ) said.
On May 31, (FSJ) is targeting to launch twice-daily services between Johannesburg and Cape Town. Flights to other key destinations will follow.
Later, Fastjet (FSJ) postponed its South African launch, which was originally planned for the end of May, until the beginning of July.
June 2013: Fastjet (FSJ) has stepped back from plans to form a joint venture with grounded Kenyan carrier Jetlink Express after resolving difficulties with its Fly540 Kenyan regional operation.
(FSJ) is considering reducing its stakes in Fly540 Tanzania and Fly540 Ghana after posting a -$56 million net loss, triggering a warning from auditors over the company’s future.
Fastjet (FSJ) Executive Chairman, David Lenigas has stepped down, effective immediately, and will be replaced on an interim basis by (CEO), Ed Winter.
Winter said Lenigas “stepped down in order to concentrate on his other business ventures. To ensure continuity in the business, I will be taking on the chairmanship helm until we can find a permanent successor.”
Lenigas said he is exiting as Fastjet (FSJ) undergoes changes to its operations and shareholder structure. African conglomerate Lonrho, which owns 49.14% of (FSJ), is being acquired by a consortium through the investment vehicle FS Africa. (FSJ)’s other two shareholders are Henderson Global Investors (6.47%) and easyGroup Holdings (3.95%).
“Lonrho is likely to have a new owner in the coming weeks as a result of the current offer for Lonrho. It therefore seems to be a good time for me to step down to pursue my other interests and hand over the reins as (FSJ) moves to the next stage of growth,” Lenigas said.
(FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter is closing in on vital international route rights from Tanzania, which it needs to ensure the viability of its operations from that country.
July 2013: EasyGroup Holdings, the private investment vehicle of EasyJet (EZY) Founder, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, has elected to take newly issued Fastjet (FSJ) shares in lieu of all royalty and consultancy payments due to EasyGroup up to December 31.
These payments relate to the brand license agreement announced in May last year. Following the transaction, 110,334,156 newly issued Fastjet (FSJ) shares at 1p will be issued to EasyGroup, increasing its holding in (FSJ) from under <3% to 5.81%. The remaining terms of the agreement remain unchanged.
Application will be made to the London Stock Exchange for a total of 110,334,156 ordinary shares to be admitted to trading on the Alternative Investment Market, and it is expected that trading in the new shares will begin July 30. Fastjet (FSJ)’s enlarged issued share capital will comprise 2,986,472,570 ordinary shares with voting rights.
(FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter said that Stelios’ decision to increase his holding in the African carrier was “testament to his confidence in Fastjet (FSJ)’s success and faith in the low-cost airline model he pioneered.” He added: “Fastjet (FSJ) values its relationship with Stelios as a shareholder and brand licensor, and also for the unparalleled low-cost airline experience he brings as a consultant.”
Stelios said: “When we signed the original agreement a year ago, the company had very little other than a vision to start operating a proper low-cost carrier (LCC) in Africa. Today, some nine months after the first Airbus A319 flight in Tanzania, (FSJ) has demonstrated that travelers in Africa will react in exactly the same way as consumers elsewhere, to the availability of low-cost fares. There is only one continent on earth where low airfares are not widely available yet. I believe Fastjet (FSJ) is now well placed to capture this final frontier. I will be watching their progress with great interest.”
Fastjet has firmed up its Dar es Salaam - Johannesburg launch for September 27, marking its debut international route. Initially, it will link Dar es Salaam in Tanzania with Johannesburg in South Africa with 3X-weekly, A319 flights, but this will be increased in line with market demand. Tickets for Dar es Salaam - Johannesburg will go on sale to Fastjet (FSJ)’s Facebook fans July 31, ahead of general release on August 1.
“The airline expects to add further international destinations including Lusaka, Zambia, to its flying program in the near future,” (FSJ) said.
(FSJ) had been planning to launch international services sooner, but it struggled to secure international route rights, prompting its auditors to issue a warning about whether the business could continue as a going concern. “Despite a number of challenges, (FSJ) is now able to respond to huge consumer demand and provide an alternative and affordable link between Dar es Salaam and Johannesburg, having secured all required permissions to do so. For far too long, it has been difficult and prohibitively expensive to fly between these two extraordinary cities. We expect our lower fares to stimulate a huge increase in the numbers of passengers travelling on this route, as has been the case on our domestic routes in Tanzania,” (FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter said.
August 2013: Fastjet (FSJ) will launch its first international route on September 27. The service between Johannesburg and Dar es Salaam will be operated three times a week with an A319 narrow body.
Frequencies will be increased "in line with market demand", said the pan-African low-cost carrier (LCC), which on June 14 was granted government clearance to fly to South Africa. "For some time, the Dar es Salaam to Johannesburg route has only been operated by one airline and the lack of competition has created inflated fares," said
Richard Bodin, (FSJ)'s Chief Commercial Officer (CCO). "Fastjet (FSJ) will substantially reduce the average fare, and in doing so will encourage more leisure and business traffic between Tanzania and South Africa."
Flightglobal's FlightMaps Analytics data shows that South African Airways (SAA) is currently the only operator on the route.
Fastjet (FSJ) was also given permission to begin operating to Zambia, and it says it will add a Lusaka route to its network "in the near future."
It had also planned to begin operating domestic services in South Africa from July, but has since postponed them indefinitely in order to concentrate on the launch of international services.
Fastjet (FSJ) will add services between Dar es Salaam and Mbeya in Tanzania from November 1, just as it prepares to launch international flights. (FSJ) will operate into Songwe Airport, which is due to be completed in October and will serve the city of Mbeya and the densely-populated cross-border regions of northern Zambia and Malawi.
It plans to initially operate a 3X-weekly, A319 service on the route, although this could increase depending on demand. “As with its existing domestic services, demand for the route is expected to be high and (FSJ) therefore intends to rapidly increase frequency.”
“The government of Tanzania has invested a considerable sum to develop this brand new airport and the regeneration of its infrastructure is due to be completed in October, allowing us to commence flights on November 1,” (FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter said.
Fastjet (FSJ) recently reorganized its share capital after the value of its shares fell, blocking the airline from issuing any new capital.
Fastjet (FSJ) shareholders have given the go-ahead for a reorganization aimed at strengthening the company’s weak share price. Over recent months, (FSJ)’s shares have frequently fallen below their nominal value of 1 pence per share, blocking it from issuing new shares to fund growth. Earlier this month, the company outlined plans for a 10-for-one share swap to shore up the share price and resolve the issue.
(FSJ) said in a stock market announcement that “the resolutions put to shareholders at the company’s general meeting were duly passed. The reorganization of share capital will therefore become effective.”
At the close of business Monday August 19, (FSJ) shares were trading at 0.995 pence each. The new shares were launched Tuesday August 20 morning at 10 pence per share, but had dipped to 8.75 pence by noon Tuesday.
According to FAPA.aero, FastJet (FSJ) is recruiting A320 family airplane Captains and First Officers (FC).
September 2013: Fastjet (FSJ)'s inaugural flight from Dar es Salaam Airport in Tanzania to Johannesburg has been pushed back to mid-October due to "unexpected administrative delays."
(FSJ), co-founded by Sir Stelios Haiji-loannnou (founder of easyJet (EZY)), said it received a last minute request for paperwork from the South African Department of Transport. Six flights, two scheduled for September 27th, two for September 30th and two for October 2 have been cancelled as a result of the delay. Fastjet (FSJ) is looking to establish itself as the first pan-African low-cost carrier (LCC), and will compete directly with South African Airways (SAA) on the route between Dar es Salaam and Johannesburg.
“This postponement is very disappointing. Unfortunately however, administrative delays of this nature are not unusual in the markets in which we operate. Having complied with all the requests made of us and secured all the necessary licenses and permits in an extremely diligent and timely fashion, (FSJ) was led to believe that we were fully on-track to launch this route on the September 27th," said Ed Winter, (CEO) of Fastjet (FSJ).
(FSJ) said all affected passengers would receive refunds.
(FSJ) has agreed to carry cargo for African cargo specialist BidAir after conducting a feasibility study. Under the deal, Fastjet (FSJ) will initially carry post and newspapers on its Tanzanian routes, which it claims will not affect its core business. “The cargo revenue rates per kilo in Africa are some of the highest in the world due to the challenges presented by poor road and rail transportation infrastructure. Carrying cargo by air is often the most efficient choice for cargo operators. We believe that offering this service will create an additional revenue stream for Fastjet (FSJ) while incurring low additional operating costs,” (FSJ) (CCO), Richard Bodin said. BidAir Cargo is already active in South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia.
Fastjet (FSJ) is hoping to start domestic airlines in Nigeria and South Africa in 2014 following the launch of its international operations.
Fly540 Kenya increases Nairobi - Lodwar service from 6X- to 9X-weekly.
October 2013: Fastjet (FSJ)’s Tanzanian low-cost operation has posted a $13.3 million trading loss for the six months ended June 30, contributing to a $39.5 million operating loss at group level.
Fastjet (FSJ) is hopeful of starting domestic operations in Nigeria in the first or second quarter of next year. (FDJ) (CEO), Ed Winter said a planned joint venture (JV) with Nigeria's Red 1 Airways to create a new low-cost carrier (LCC) in the west African country is still on hold, while its Red 1 Airways waits for an aircraft operator certificate (AOC) from the government.
"We are really waiting on our colleagues at Red 1 to move forward, but we have had quite a lot of dialogue with them and with the [Nigerian] government,” Winter said. The (FSJ) boss said the launch of domestic services in South Africa, which were delayed so (FSJ) could focus on beginning international services into the country, remains a priority and adds that access to the South Africa market is crucial to the success of the airline’s business model.
Fastjet (FSJ) will launch international services on October 18, with a flight from Dar es Salaam’s Julius Nyerere International Airport in Tanzania to Johannesburg’s O R Tambo International Airport in South Africa.
Flights between the two cities will initially operate 3X-weekly until demand warrants a frequency increase.
Fastjet (FSJ) had to postpone its planned launch of international services last month following a last-minute request for additional paperwork from South Africa's Department of Transport.
(FSJ) (CEO) and interim Chairman, Ed Winter said: “The South African Department of Transport has completed its review of the additional documents it requested and has issued an updated foreign operator’s permit. (FSJ) is delighted that, in line with our expansion strategy, operations can now commence on this route. Until now, flying between Dar es Salaam and Johannesburg has been prohibitively expensive for many people. The launch of this service offers a new, affordable and reliable option to both Tanzanians and South Africans.”
Fastjet (FSJ) has finally flown its first international flight between Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Johannesburg in South Africa, which was originally planned for September 27. After months of planning and some last-minute paperwork issues, which forced (FSJ) to delay its pivotal international launch, (FSJ) performed its maiden international service 0ctober 25th under flight number FN0201. The 2,430 km sector will initially be served with thrice-weekly (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) flights using one of (FSJ)’s three A319s. Competition comes from South African Airways (SAA), who operate the route 12 times weekly also using A319s.
“In line with our planned strategic development, we have made a significant step towards becoming a true Pan-African airline,” (FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter said.
Fastjet (FSJ) plans to operate 3X-weekly services between the cities, although it will increase frequencies in line with demand. The new route joins (FSJ)’s existing network of Tanzanian domestic services, which include Dar es Salaam-Mwanza, Dar es Salaam - Kilimanjaro, and Kilimanjaro - Zanzibar. It will also add Dar es Salaam - Mbeya on November 1.
November 2013: fastjet (FSJ), which recently launched its first international route, continued to build its domestic network from Dar es Salaam (DAR) with the launch of thrice-weekly services on the 700 km route to Mbeya (MBI) in south-western Tanzania. Commenting on the new service was Ed Winter, (FSJ)’s (CEO), who said: “We’ve had a huge demand from customers to add flights to Mbeya to our schedule and we have worked closely with the Tanzanian Government, the local civil aviation authority and Songwe Airport authorities to make this new route possible. Seats on this new route are selling exceptionally quickly (with our first flights to and from Mbeya over >90% full) showing that Tanzanians are welcoming this new (FSJ) service with open arms.” Precision Air (PRT) provides competition in the market from Dar es Salaam to Mbeya, which it serves with daily frequencies.
December 2013: Fastjet (FSJ) will increase service on its new Dar es Salaam - Mbeya service from 4x-weekly to 7x.
(FSJ) will begin flying to Lusaka, Zambia from its home base of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania February 1, 2014, inaugurating its second international route. Flights on the new route will initially operate 2x-weekly using (FSJ)’s A319s.
(FSJ) interim Chairman and (CEO), Ed Winter said: “The launch of our second international route to Lusaka moves Fastjet (FSJ) further along the path to becoming a truly pan African carrier. We are incredibly pleased that, in accordance with our planned growth strategy, the roll-out of our international route network is now gaining real momentum and we are fulfilling our promise to the people of Africa to democratize air travel across the continent.”
(FSJ) is also marking its first full year of flight operations from Dar es Salaam's Julius Nyerere airport.
Winter said, "We see the end of our first year as just the beginning for Fastjet (FSJ) and we remain steadfastly committed to becoming the first true, pan African low-cost airline, launching more international routes and domestic networks.”
In its first year, (FSJ) has carried more than >355,000 passengers on its domestic network in Tanzania and internationally to Johannesburg in South Africa, and early indicators point to a busy festive season.
Fastjet has appointed four new directors to the board of its subsidiary, Fastjet Airlines (FSJ). Tanzanian diplomat, Ami Mpungwe and prominent lawyer and businessman Lawrence Masha will serve as non-executive directors. (FSJ) (CFO), Angus Saunders and (CCO), Richard Bodin will also join (FSJ) as executive directors.
January 2014: Fastjet (FSJ) is in what it describes as “very positive” discussions with the Zambian government, Tourist Board and other stakeholders over plans to establish an operational base in Lusaka.
(FSJ) said the new Lusaka operation would be distributed and marketed as part of the Fastjet (FSJ) network, but would be a Zambian-registered company in which (FSJ) would have a substantial stake.
(FSJ) said it would expedite applications for an air services license and air operator’s certificate (AOC), but expected this to take up to six months. (FSJ) is due to launch its inaugural flights between Dar-es-Salaam and Lusaka (its second international destination) next month.
(FSJ) said there were currently “a number of small, local airlines that the board sees as providing unreliable and intermittent services on domestic Zambian routes and (FSJ) believes there is the need for a dependable airline that can offer good value, high quality and regular services.”
It said that key domestic routes from Lusaka would include Ndola (on the (DRC) border and in the center of the copper belt), which is currently “poorly served,” and Livingstone. Regional international routes are all operated by non-Zambian airlines, with the major Lusaka - Johannesburg boasting seven flights a day operated by South Africa Airways (SAA) and its associates.
Fastjet (FSJ) Operations Director, Captain Rob Bishton is leaving (FSJ) to take over as Head of the UK's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)'s Flight Operations department within the (CAA)'s recently merged safety and airspace functions. Rob is a current A320 and 737 Captain and instructor. He will replace the (UK CAA)'s retiring Bob Jones.
Fastjet ((IATA) Code: FN, based at Dar-es-Salaam) (FSJ) has started discussions with the Zambian government over creating a new operation based in Lusaka. (FSJ) said the subsidiary would be a Zambian-registered company in which (FSJ) would have a substantial stake, with the business marketed as part of the pan-African fastjet (FSJ) network. The application for an Air Services Licence and Air Operator Certificate (AOC) is likely to take up to six months. In tandem to a new Dar-es-Salaam - Lusaka service, which is set to commence in February, the new subsidiary would also likely serve Ndola and Livingstone. “Ndola on the (DRC) border and in the center of the copper belt is a key hub which is currently poorly served,” a statement read. fastjet (FSJ) has already entered a similar agreement in Nigeria with Red 1 Xpress (Lagos). Southern Africa is set for a major upheaval in the regional market with Ethiopian Airlines (ETH) subsidiary, Malawi Airlines (Blantyre), set to launch services shortly. Reports of another new Zimbabwean start-up have also emerged in which five ex-(CSA) Czech Airlines 737-500s have already been sourced. It is still unclear at this time as to whether or not the carrier will actually launch, however.
February 2014: Fastjet (FSJ) has operated its first flight between Tanzania and Zambia, marking the launch of (FSJ)’s second international route in Africa.
The return service from Dar es Salaam’s Julius Nyerere International Airport to Lusaka’s Kenneth Kaunda International Airport was launched February 1, and will initially be operated twice a week. (FSJ) said it expected to increase frequency in line with consumer demand.
(FSJ) Interim Chairman & (CEO), Ed Winter said (FSJ) “has been able to expand its international network by working closely with the governments of Tanzania and Zambia, who understand and value the positive impact that low-cost air travel can have on the lives of their citizens and the general economy. With their help in making this new route possible, we have added momentum to Fastjet (FSJ)'s vision of democratizing air travel on the African continent. We believe that this will lead to more affordable fares and greater cost efficiencies for passengers, businesses and governments.”
The Lusaka-Dar es Salaam route is expected to boost growing trade relationships between neighboring countries. (FSJ) said “other jet airplane operators only offer nondirect flights between the two cities.”
(FSJ) is talking to the Zambian government about plans to establish a Zambian-registered (FSJ) operation offering both domestic and international flights from Lusaka. Potential domestic destinations include Ndola and Livingstone, with Johannesburg a priority for international services. “The business and political environments in Zambia are very progressive and our discussions to date have been very positive,” Winter said. “The aim of our operation would be to promote trade and tourism, to increase and improve on safety and reliability within the Zambian aviation industry, and to create employment opportunities.”
fastjet (FSJ), the Tanzanian low-cost carrier (LCC), commenced its second international route to Lusaka (LUN) in Zambia on February 1st, joining its existing services to Johannesburg. The 1,500 km sector from Dar es Salaam (DAR) will be served 2x-weekly (Thursdays and Saturdays), utilizing (FSJ)’s 125-seat A319s. The flights to one of the fastest-developing cities in southern Africa will face no competition from other carriers.
Commenting on the route launch, Ed Winter, (CEO) of fastjet (FSJ), said: “We are incredibly pleased that, in accordance with our planned growth strategy, the roll-out of our international route network is now gaining real momentum and we are fulfilling our promise to the people of Africa to democratise air travel across the continent. We look forward to bringing the benefits of affordable, high-quality air travel to the people of Zambia.”
April 2014: African budget carrier Fastjet (FSJ) has detailed plans to raise at least another £11 million/$18.4 million through the issue of 687.5 million new shares by April 15, as it struggles to gain momentum and stem losses from its legacy Fly540 regional operations.
As part of Fastjet (FSJ)’s latest funding drive, easyGroup has agreed to waive its consultancy fees in return for £1.51 million in new shares, while easyGroup (IP) Licensing will invest a further £1 million in cash.
Fastjet (FSJ) operates on a brand license from Stelios Haji-Iannou’s easyGroup. (FSJ) values the waiver at about £4.3 million over the next eight years. Conditional on (FSJ) hitting its £10 million placement target, easyGroup (IP) Licensing has also agreed to invest £1 million in cash.
Existing shareholders will be offered 250,000,000 shares, which should raise up to £4 million. Around £3 million of the fresh funding will be used for “central services infrastructure,” according to a stock market declaration. A further £2 million will be invested in new base costs, £3 million will be ploughed into its Tanzanian operation as working capital, and the remainder will be used for general funding.
This means Fastjet (FSJ) will terminate its former funding facility, provided by Darwin Strategic, saying it is no longer required. “We now look to move to the next phase of (FSJ)’s expansion with further international routes, additional airplanes and more bases. Securing the funding for management to fulfill that plan is a great step forward,” Fastjet (CEO) & Interim Chairman, Ed Winter said.
“The restructuring of the Fly540 operations is very well advanced and will be completed shortly. During 2013, less than <$650,000 of (FSJ) cash was utilized in the legacy Fly540 operations,” Fastjet (FSJ) said.
(FSJ) operates three Airbus A319s from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, serving three domestic routes (Mwanza, Kilimanjaro and Mbeya) and two international destinations (Johannesburg and Lusaka). It is planning to add services to Kenya by the fourth quarter. “This will enable fixed overhead costs to be spread over a larger operation, a key factor in turning the Fastjet (FSJ) operation profitable. (FSJ) plans to add additional airplanes in 2015. It also plans to establish bases in Zambia, Kenya and South Africa. The group is targeting to have four (FSJ) operational bases across Africa by 2016 and by 2018 to operate 24 airplanes, carrying approximately 6 million passengers per year with targeted revenues in excess of >$500 million,” (FSJ) said.
(FSJ) is also in discussions to create a Fastjet (FSJ) operation based in Lusaka, Zambia, in which it would hold “a substantial stake.” (FSJ) plans to invest directly via airline equity stakes in larger markets (such as South Africa, Zambia and Kenya) and use brand licensing to enter smaller and more difficult markets, like Nigeria.
Fastjet (FSJ) has signed an agreement with Lusaka-based Proflight Zambia enabling passengers to book travel on a single ticket to 15 cities in Zambia, Malawi and Tazania on the two airlines. (FSJ) will fly the Dar es Salaam - Lusaka service from May 1 and the Tanzania domestic services from Dar es Salaam, while Proflight will fly its existing domestic routes in Zambia, and its route to Lilongwe in Malawi from Lusaka.
Romania’s Aerostar won a contract from Tanzania’s Fastjet (FSJ) for heavy maintenance of two Airbus A319s.
May 2014: African budget carrier, Fastjet (FSJ) has confirmed it has temporarily suspended operations in Angola as part of a major restructuring program aimed at turning around its loss-making Fly540 businesses there and in Ghana.
Currently, the Ghana and Angola businesses operate on a legacy airline model. Fastjet (FSJ) believes that (although both countries present significant long-term opportunities for its low-cost model) the optimum short-term potential is exploiting growth opportunities in East and Southern Africa.
As part of the restructuring, two group-owned ATR airplanes, previously operating in Ghana and Angola, have been taken out of service and are in the process of being sold. A leased airplane continues to operate in Ghana, and the Angolan operation will resume when two further leased airplanes return to service upon completion of required maintenance. Fastjet (FSJ) said it would release further details on the restructuring of both Fly540 operations in due course.
Fastjet (FSJ) interim Chairman & (CEO), Ed Winter said: “Management has been carefully considering how best to restructure the Fly540 business, which we inherited, and this is a highly significant and very positive development in that process. We are currently focused on expanding the low-cost Fastjet (FSJ) network in East and Southern Africa by establishing bases in Zambia, Kenya, and South Africa (and these plans are progressing well). However, our overall vision is to create a pan-African low-cost network and, as such, launching the low-cost Fastjet (FSJ) model in both Angola and Ghana remains firmly part of the company’s long-term plans."
Fastjet (FSJ) has suspended operations at its Fly540 Ghana subsidiary as part of its long-running battle to curb its legacy Fly540 losses.
(FSJ) acquired African regional airline, Fly540 to accelerate its low-cost carrier (LCC) launch, giving it instant access to air operators’ certificates in Angola, Ghana, Kenya, and Tanzania. (FSJ) used this as a platform to launch Fastjet-branded Airbus A319 operations from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in November 2012.
However, Fastjet (FSJ) has struggled to secure route rights for its budget expansion (partly due to questions over ownership and control) and its legacy Fly540 business has been racking up losses. Earlier in May, (FSJ) suspended Fly540’s Angolan operation (pending restructuring) and said Ghana was also on its watch list.
Ghana has now followed in the footsteps of Angola. “Fly540 operations in Ghana are being temporarily suspended pending further restructuring. Fly540 has served notice on the leasing agreement it holds on one ATR airplanes in Ghana,” (FSJ) said. It has already put two ATRs, previously operating in Ghana and Angola, up for sale.
(FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter said the legacy Fly540 business is not part of its core (LCC) model. He reiterated his ambition to launch Fastjet (FSJ) low-cost operations in both Angola and Ghana in the long term.
For the shorter term, Fastjet (FSJ) is focusing on East and Southern Africa; it is aiming to establish bases in Kenya, South Africa, and Zambia. “These plans are progressing well,” Winter said.
However, (FSJ)’s international expansion has been sluggish, and its tentative plans to partner with airlines and investors in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa have been slow to materialize.
June 2014: Fastjet (FSJ) has struck a deal to sell its stake in loss-making Fly540 Kenya for a nominal fee and is considering replacing it with a new venture, "Fastjet Kenya."
Fly540 Kenya formed part of Lonrho Aviation, a legacy business that Fastjet (FSJ) acquired to establish itself in the African market.
“After a thorough and lengthy evaluation of Fly540 Kenya, we concluded that converting the business into the Fastjet (FSJ) low-cost model would not be economically viable,” (FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter said.
The stake is being acquired by Fly540 Director Don Smith, who last year ended up in a legal battle with (FSJ) over alleged unpaid debts. This dispute was ultimately resolved and Smith continued as (CEO) of the Kenyan business.
Winter described the sale negotiations as complex and said the agreement removes Fly540 Kenya from the Fastjet group, which will take a $10 million write-down on the sale. “Disposing of our investment in Fly540 Kenya allows us to pursue our priority objective of creating Fastjet Kenya as a new entity which will operate to the same low-cost model, international standards of safety, reliability and punctuality as Fastjet Tanzania, and utilize the same commercial strategy and distribution platforms. Further information on the company’s plans to launch Fastjet Kenya will be announced in due course,” Winter said.
Fastjet (FSJ) launched its own-branded Airbus A319 low-cost operations from Tanzania in November 2012. Besides Fly540 Kenya, it also owns Fly540 Angola and Fly540 Ghana, although both of these have been grounded to curb losses.
Fastjet (FSJ) appointed to its board of directors (CCO) Richard Bodin, Krista Bates, and Clive Carver, effective immediately. Krista Bates recently joined the company as Group General Counsel, and Clive Carver will join the board in the role of Non-Executive Director.
July 2014: Fastjet ((IATA) Code: FN, based at Dar-es-Salaam) (FSJ) has outlined its proposed two-phase growth-strategy for the next four years. Announcing its Full year results for the Financial Year ended December 31, 2013, (FSJ) said the initial phase would focus on fully utilizing its current resources by increasing frequencies on its existing network (i.e Dar-es-Salaam to Mbeya, Mwanza, Kilimanjaro, Lusaka, Johannesburg O R Tambo, and soon, Harare International) in addition to rolling out new routes to Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda.
Once that phase is complete, (FSJ) will then proceed with expansion throughout Africa. "By 2018, (FSJ) expects to operate 24 airplanes and carry 6 million passengers. This represents only a 13% market share of estimated pan African passengers in these markets," it said.
Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, and Zambia have been identified as major growth opportunities.
Fastjet (FSJ) addeds four flights for a total of 25x-weekly on Dar es Salaam - Mwanza. It also adds one flight to Dar es Salaam - Lusaka on August 17 for a total of 4x-weekly. New service on Dar es Salaam - Harare has moved from an August 2 start date to August 5.
With its proposed new venture, Fastjet Zambia (Lusaka), currently in the pipeline, (FSJ) plans to base two airplanes in Zambia during the course of the year increasing the operation's fleet to three airplanes in 2016.
Thereafter, it plans to base three airplanes in South Africa in 2015 and expand its fleet in the country to five airplanes in 2016 and seven airplanes in 2017.
Fastjet (FSJ)'s suspended Ghanaian and Angola operations (Fly540 Ghana ((IATA) Code: 5G, based at Accra) and Fly540 Angola ((IATA) Code: F5, based at Luanda) do not feature in the plans and will only return to operational status, once their restructurings have been successfully completed.
To improve (FSJ)'s international presence, it plans to enter into commercial and marketing agreements with third party inter-continental airlines of which Emirates (EAD) has been touted as a prospect.
(FSJ) currently operates 3 airplanes, and serves 4 countries, 7 destinations, 6 routes and 17 daily flights.
August 2014: Fastjet (FSJ) has launched its third international route this month, with the inauguration of flights between its home base of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Harare, Zimbabwe.
According to (FSJ), the route is the only direct air link between the two African capital cities and forward bookings for the twice-weekly service were “well ahead of management expectations.” As a result, (FSJ) has decided to increase frequency to 3x-weekly from the end of September.
(FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter said the inaugural flight from Harare was fully booked. “With future bookings also looking strong, we’ve decided to add a third rotation each Thursday, which we expect to commence at the end of next month,” he said.
Winter said Fastjet (FSJ) had “responded to requests from Zimbabweans and Tanzanians asking for a direct route connecting these two cities. We believe the launch of this route will stimulate business and tourism in regions where citizens have had to depend on lengthy road transportation or have been excluded from air travel by the significant costs of flying an indirect route through Nairobi or Johannesburg.”
(FSJ) operates internationally from Dar es Salaam to Johannesburg, Lusaka and Harare, with a domestic network in Tanzania that includes Mwanza, Kilimanjaro, and Mbeya.
September 2014: Fastjet (FSJ) reported a net loss of -$34.5 million for the six months ended June 30, reduced from a loss of -$41.9 million reported for the same period last year.
(FSJ) launches flights to its fourth international destination in the middle of September, inaugurating the first direct air link between Tanzania and Uganda.
Services between Dar es Salaam and Entebbe will begin September 16, with twice-weekly flights until September 29, when frequency will increase to 4x-weekly.
Fastjet (FSJ) (CEO) and interim Chairman, Ed Winter said: “We believe the launch of this route (the only direct air link between Uganda and Tanzania) will stimulate new business and tourism traffic in Uganda. We very much look forward to commencing flights and hope this is the beginning of a wider (FSJ) network from Entebbe.”
(FSJ) said that, since Air Uganda ceased flying, fares offered by other carriers for flights in and out of the country have risen steadily. (FSJ) is confident that its “market stimulating fares” will give it “a strong competitive advantage and that this new route will be a commercial success.”
Tickets for the Entebbe route have already gone on sale and are currently lower than fares for non-direct flights between the two cities, (FSJ) said.
(FSJ) operates internationally from Dar es Salaam to Johannesburg, Lusaka and Harare, and its domestic network in Tanzania includes Mwanza, Kilimanjaro, and Mbeya.
Fastjet (FSJ) has introduced two new services (“SmartClass” and “Freighty” packages) to tailor services with market demand, following a growing trend among Europe’s low-cost carrier (LCC) operators.
SmartClass gives passengers advance premium seat allocation, baggage allowance of up to 32 kg, and the ability to change flight dates at no additional cost.
Fastjet (FSJ)’s new "freighty" package is a luggage upgrade package for international passengers, which allows them to carry up to 80 kg of hold luggage. The new freight package targets passengers who fly (FSJ) to Tanzania, to either collect or purchase wholesale produce from the port and markets in Dar es Salaam, to sell in their home markets. Fastjet (FSJ) discovered that (although these traders were flying to Dar es Salaam) they were using ground transportation for the journey home. In the case of Harare, for example, this equates to a three-day bus journey. The freight upgrade enables passengers to fly both ways.
(FSJ) Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), Richard Bodin said SmartClass provides “additional flexibility, quick disembarkation from the front rows, and the ability to travel with a baggage allowance, more appropriate to the needs of today’s business traveler.” He said Freighty is a simple but innovative product enhancement, “which is easy to administer and will allow our passengers to benefit from the large capacity of our airplane holds.”
Fastjet (FSJ) has applied for a Kenyan Air Service License (ASL), forming part of its four-year expansion strategy, as pressure begins to mount from its high-profile shareholder, Stelios Haji-Ioannou.
Since launching its own-branded Airbus A319 low-cost operations from Tanzania in November 2012, (FSJ)’s pan-African expansion has been sluggish. However, (FSJ) is sticking with ambitions to broaden its network from Tanzania and set up new (FSJ)-branded ventures in other African countries.
Over the period to December 31, 2018, Fastjet Tanzania will focus on growing its revenue, load factors and yield, while keeping tight control of costs. It will boost frequencies on existing routes (Dar es Salaam to Entebbe, Harare, Johannesburg, Kilimanjaro, Lusaka, Mbeya, and Mwanza) and add new routes from Tanzania, opening destinations in Kenya (Nairobi) and Malawi (Lilongwe).
Fastjet (FSJ) is also looking to move ahead with its expansion into other markets. Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, and Zambia have all been earmarked as “major growth opportunities.”
The first of these likely to happen is Kenya, where Fastjet Tanzania is seeking route rights and newly created Fastjet Kenya has applied for an Air Service License (ASL). This will pave the way for its Kenyan air operator’s certificate (AOC), which will be used to open a domestic and international base in the country.
“This is an important step for (FSJ). We have submitted a comprehensive application to the authorities who have confirmed that Fastjet Kenya has entered the approval process,” (FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter said.
(FSJ) was previously active in the country through Fly540 Kenya, but this division was sold over the summer. At the time of the disposal, Fastjet (FSJ) said it was not “economically viable” to transition Fly540 Kenya from a regional to a low-cost model. Sources familiar with the situation said that ties were severed because Fly540 Kenya caused “too many issues.” The stake was acquired by Fly540 Director, Don Smith, who last year ended up in a legal battle with (FSJ) over alleged unpaid debts.
The newly created airline is 51%-owned by an unnamed Kenyan national and the remainder is “ultimately” held by (FSJ). The (ASL) application, which involved the submission of a detailed business plan, was published August 29 and is scheduled for a public hearing around September 19.
By 2018, (FSJ) expects to operate 24 airplanes and carry 6 million passengers. “This represents only a 13% market share of estimated pan-African passengers in these markets,” (FSJ) said. It is also looking to form partnerships with third-party airlines flying into Africa.
“The company intends to increase pan-African reach using an airline management service franchise model to develop a pan-African Fastjet (FSJ) network, where appropriate and in particular where we want to de-risk expansion financially or politically. Negotiations are progressing in a number of countries with interested parties,” (FSJ) said. Several sets of talks have been announced in the past, but none have yet materialized.
Meanwhile, (FSJ) shareholder Stelios Haji-Ioannou has fired a warning shot at the airline’s directors, criticizing their “excessive” salaries, despite a backdrop of heavy losses.
Haji-Ioannou, who owns more than >10% of (FSJ) via his investment vehicle easyGroup, said: “We remain concerned at the company’s continuing losses, which in 2013 amounted to -$80 million on revenues of $53 million. That’s about $2.50 of cost for every dollar of revenue. Moreover, we are concerned at the share price, which has fallen by around 84% in the last 12 months alone.”
He said (FSJ)’s (CEO) receives $794,000 in salary and bonuses, while the (CFO) receives $412,000, totaling $1.2 million for these two positions alone. “If the company fails to implement such changes to correct the current unsatisfactory situation with regards to losses and excessive executive pay, we will have no option but to vote against all resolutions at the next opportunity,” Haji-Ioannou said.
(FSJ) licenses its brand from the easyGroup. For the financial year ended December 31, 2013, easyGroup’s fees and charges totaled $1.7 million.
October 2014: Fastjet (FSJ) announced its Tanzanian flight services have been hit by four bird strikes, which resulted in a number of flights being delayed or canceled.
“Fastjet (FSJ) airplanes encountered an unprecedented total of four bird strikes in two weeks, with two large birds colliding with the nose cone of the airplane, and two hitting the airplane engines fan blades,” (FSJ) said.
“Safety remains (FSJ)’s top priority, so following each incident the airplanes were thoroughly inspected and repaired by engineers (MT) to be certified before return to operation. In addition to this, a (FSJ) airplane on scheduled maintenance (C check) was delayed in returning to operation due to repairs taking much longer than expected.”
Fastjet (FSJ) said the cancellations and delays have had a “minimal impact on either total passenger numbers or financial results.”
(CEO) and interim Chairman, Ed Winter said: “It is highly unusual to have had four bird strikes in such a short period of time; these coinciding with a maintenance delay compounded the situation. Going forward, we are working with the relevant authorities to improve the management of the Mwanza airfield and surrounding areas to reduce the likelihood of bird strikes in the future. Also, as we execute our plan to add more airplanes to the fleet, we would expect similar circumstances to have a smaller impact on operations.”
November 2014: News Item A-1: Fastjet ((IATA) Code: FN, based at Dar-es-Salaam) (FSJ) has rejected reports in the Zambian press that the country's interim President, Guy Scott, used his influence to grant Fastjet Zambia (Lusaka) its Air Services Licence (ASL). Scott, Africa's first white President since South Africa's FW de Klerk stepped down in 1994, was appointed Zambia's interim leader following the death of President Michael Sata late last month.
"(FSJ) has applied for a Zambian (ASL) and looks forward to receiving a decision from the Zambian Government in due course," (FSJ) said. "The company has fully complied with all the necessary regulations and followed the correct and official procedures with regards to its application."
Citing sources in the Zambian Ministry of Transport & Communications, the "Zambian Watchdog" news site claimed (FSJ)'s application had been fast-tracked to Minister, Yamfwa Mukanga's desk with allegations the process was pushed through on Scott's direction.
A 49/51 joint venture with a local investor, Fastjet Zambia began its certification earlier this year with plans to offer domestic Zambian and regional services by year-end. Fastjet (FSJ) has stated it intends to base three A319-100s out of Lusaka once operations have been established.
However, some local operators have expressed reservations about (FSJ)'s entry into the Zambian market with concerns the airline could undercut and ultimately drive them out of business.
(FSJ) said its Zambian subsidiary, Fastjet Zambia (Lusaka), has secured its Air Services Licence (ASL) from the country's government. The issuance has been clouded in controversy with claims Zambia's interim President, Guy Scott, had expedited the process.
"Timescales before the first flight will be dependent on the time taken for the authorities to review the (AOC) application documents. We look forward to going on sale and commencing operations in Zambia, once that process has been completed," (CEO), Edward Winter said.
Zambia will be fastjet (FSJ)'s second base with plans to roll out flights to various destinations in East and Southern Africa once all certification has been completed. (FSJ) has also been awarded 5th Freedom Rights by the Ugandan government to operate flights from Uganda to Juba, Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta, Kigali, and Johannesburg O R Tambo. (FSJ) said that it would commence flights once authorities in the relevant countries had given their approvals.
With the recent controversial demise of Air Uganda ((IATA) Code: U7, based at Entebbe/Kampala) (AUN), Uganda has allocated foreign carriers the much sought after rights with Ethiopian Airlines (ETH) and RwandAir (RWA) having benefited as well. "5th Freedom rights present a fantastic opportunity to increase the Tanzanian network, increasing airplane utilization and also establishing the fastjet (FSJ) brand in Uganda without the immediate establishment of a full Ugandan base," Winter added.
(AUN) says it is in talks with a number of potential investors, including industry partners and specialist African investors, with the aim of completing funding talks for its planned Zambian and Ugandan operations by early next year.
In a bid to accelerate its Tanzanian operation's entrance into the African regional market, (FSJ) recently disposed of a 51% stake in fastjet Tanzania to local Tanzanian investors. Initially, these shares will be put into a holding company before being sold to Tanzanian investors, Fastjet (FSJ) said.
Majority local ownership is expected open up new international markets to the airline as per Tanzania's various Bilateral Air Service Agreements.
News Item A-2: Fastjet (FSJ), which is seeking further funding, is selling some of its shares in fastjet Tanzania to local investors and has been granted both its Zambia air service permit (ASP) and Ugandan fifth freedom rights.
December 2014: News Item A-1: Fastjet ((FSJ) has sold a pair of ATR72-500s formerly operated by Fly540 Ghana and Angola, as part of its previously announced restructuring of the two businesses.
The two ATR72-500s (949 and 826) are being acquired by Elix Assets 7 for a current market value of $11.6 million for (949) and $9.75 million for (826). This will be paid directly to African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), which holds the financing facility for the airplanes; however, Fastjet Aviation Limited will have to cover the remaining $2.3 million debt. This is slightly higher than the $2.1 million impairment that (FSJ) set aside in its 2014 interim results.
“The ATRs have not been in use since operations ceased in Ghana and Angola earlier this year. The ATRs are surplus to current business needs and have not been generating a profit for the fastjet group, but have been accruing finance lease and other costs in both 540 Ghana and 540 Angola,” (FSJ) said.
Fastjet (FSJ) is restructuring the two Fly540 regional operations and has suspended flights at both businesses, so it can focus on its core Airbus A319 budget operations under its own branding.
Fastjet (FSJ) has sold off a pair of a ATR 72-500s to Irish firm Elix Assets 7 Ltd (Ireland), a subsidiary of Elix Aviation Capital, for USD21.3 million. (FSJ) said the turboprops, (949) and (826), were previously in service with its defunct Fly540 Angola ((IATA) Code: F5, based at Luanda) and Fly540 Ghana ((IATA) Code : 5G, based at Accra) subsidiaries and though they had not been in active service since the beginning of the year, they had continued to rack up finance leasing and other costs.
"The airplanes were purchased using a financing facility provided through the African Export-Import Bank; the USD21.35 million proceeds from the sale will go towards paying off the money (FSJ) owes to the bank," it said.
(FSJ) itself operates three A319-100s with a fourth, (2281, 5H-FJR), set to be delivered shortly. It serves destinations within Tanzania as well as Johannesburg O R Tambo, Harare International, Entebbe, and Lusaka internationally. It was recently granted 5th Freedom rights to operate flights from Entebbe/Kampala to Juba, Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta, Johannesburg, and Kigali.
News Item A-2: fastJet (FSJ) is aiming to finally pursue fleet expansion and launch affiliates in 2015. The group ended 2014 with a fleet of only three A319s (the same number of airplanes it operated at the end of 2012 and 2013) after repeatedly delaying expansion and the launch of new affiliates.
The Tanzania-based group could potentially triple its fleet in 2015 as a second affiliate is launched in Zambia and potentially a third base is also opened, most likely in Uganda. But such growth is far from a certainty and it seems unlikely the long anticipated launch of affiliates in Kenya and South Africa will occur in 2015.
fastJet (FSJ) has accumulated approximately -USD 200 million in losses since being established in 2012. It is confident lower oil prices and the suspension of unprofitable operations in Angola and Ghana will significantly improve its financial position in 2015.
Protectionist hurdles (frequently of little practical value) remain and competition meanwhile is intensifying.
The London-listed fastJet group currently consists of one airline, fastJet Tanzania (FSJ), operating three A319s on three domestic and four international routes. (FSJ) launched services in late 2012 with an initial fleet of three A319s.
(FSJ) has been able to expand in 2014, although on a very low base, by increasing airplane utilization rates. fastJet Tanzania (FSJ) passenger traffic was up +59% for the 12 months ending Nov 30th 2014, to 569,000.
The increase in passenger numbers this year has been mainly driven by the launch of three new international routes from its Dar es Salaam base. (FSJ) began serving Lusaka in Zambia in February 2014, followed by Harare in Zimbabwe in August 2014, and Entebbe in Uganda in September 2014. Based on schedules for January 2015, Entebbe is served with 4x-weekly flights, while Harare, Lusaka, and Johannesburg (which was launched in October 2013) are each served with 3x-weekly flights.
The low cost carrier (LCC) also has added domestic capacity and currently operates an average of seven domestic flights per day. This includes three daily flights from its Dar es Salaam base to Mwanza, between two to 3x-daily flights to Kilimanjaro, and between 1x- to 2x-daily flights to Mbeya.
Higher load factors have been another driver in the increase in passenger numbers. (FSJ)’s load factor improved by 5% points from 72% LF in the 12 months ending November 2013 to 77% LF in the 12 months ending November 2014.
(FSJ) also has been able to reduce unit costs, as it has nearly doubled its average airplane utilization rate, which in the first year of operations was extremely low for an (LCC) at less than 6< hours per day. But the group has remained highly unprofitable.
For the six months ending June 30th, 2014, the last period the group reported financial results, (FSJ) incurred a group operating loss before exceptional items of -USD 31 million compared to -USD 25 million in (1H) 2013. The group has accumulated operating losses of -USD 166 million over the last three years (July 2011 to June 2014) while generating revenues of only USD 97 million.
About three-quarters of these losses and half the revenues were generated by fly540-branded operations, which (FSJ) acquired in attempt to accelerate its entrance into several African markets. fly540 Tanzania, which had been the smallest of the fly540 franchises, was quickly converted into an (LCC) and rebranded "fastJet Tanzania" (FSJ). But the group ultimately determined that fly540 Kenya could not be converted into an (LCC) and that the Angola and Ghana markets were not ready for the (LCC) model. fastJet (FSJ) disposed of fly540 Kenya in June 2014, while fly540 Angola suspended operations in February 2014 and fly540 Ghana stopped operating in May 2014.
The sale and suspension of the various fly540 affiliates, which were all following a regional airline rather than the (LCC) model, significantly improves the (FSJ) outlook in 2015. The group can now focus on expanding its footprint throughout Africa by launching new affiliates from scratch, which should ensure future operations have the (LCC) (DNA) needed to be viable.
The initial strategy of buying existing airlines seemed logical at the time, mainly aimed at overcoming the burdensome regulatory protectionism confronting start-ups in most African countries; however, in this case it proved too challenging and very costly.
While the outlook is brighter without the burden of the fly540 operations, the fastJet group still has to turn around its only remaining airline subsidiary, fastJet Tanzania (FSJ). The (LCC) has accumulated operating losses of over >-USD 40 million since launching services in late November 2012, including a -USD 22 million loss in 2013 and a -USD 14 million loss in (1H) 2014.
The losses are clearly unsustainable given the airline only generated USD 47 million in revenues through its first 19 months of operations. This includes USD 2 million in December 2012, USD 26 million in 2013, and USD 19 million in (1H) 2014.
The group is confident fastJet Tanzania (FSJ) can become profitable in 2015, boosted by lower fuel prices, as it does not have any fuel hedges. But given the extent of the losses so far (including an operating margin of about negative -74% in (1H) 2014 (it will take a lot more than lower fuel costs to turn the (LCC) around).
Scale is clearly an issue. fastJet Tanzania (FSJ) is about to carry its one millionth passenger (a milestone most (LCC)s meet in a much quicker timeframe than the 25 months taken by (FSJ)).
The Tanzanian market is relatively small and is not expected by (FSJ) to support an (LCC) operation of more than >7 airplanes over the medium to long term. Even with its current three airplanes schedule (FSJ) is already the largest airline in the Tanzanian market with an approximately 20% share of total seat capacity.
(FSJ)’s model has always envisioned achieving economies of scale by establishing a group of airlines. This would unlock synergies through joint purchasing, sharing a website and connecting the dots by serving common destinations.
But fastJet (FSJ) has so far faced repeated delays in launching new affiliates, making it impossible to achieve the scale needed to be profitable. Initially, the group focused on launching affiliates in South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria. (MoU)s with joint venture (JV) partners in each of these markets were initially signed in 2012 and early 2013. The group’s initial fleet plan envisioned 13 airplanes spread across multiple bases by the end of 2013.
After encountering numerous setbacks in the main markets of Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa, (FSJ) decided in early 2014 to pursue an affiliate in Zambia as its first priority. As (CAPA) previously outlined, this was a sensible decision, because while Zambia is small, it is a relatively under-served and less competitive market with fewer barriers to entry.
The group was initially aiming to launch fastJet Zambia in mid-2014. After the initial target date was missed, it remained optimistic it would still begin operations by the end of 2014. In late June 2014, (FSJ) unveiled a four-year fleet plan which included two A319s for fastjet Zambia by the end of 2014.
fastJet (CEO), Ed Winter told (CAPA) on December 23rd 2014 that the restructuring of the Zambia Department of Civil Aviation has delayed the process of securing an air operator’s certificate (AOC). But Mr Winter is optimistic (FSJ) will be able to secure an (AOC) and launch in 2015.
The award of an Air Service Permit (ASP) from Zambian authorities in November 2014 marked an important initial milestone in the process. Mr Winter told (CAPA) that while fastjet Zambia “will take a bit longer” to launch than initially expected, it is “racing ahead of the others. That without a doubt will be where the next base will open.”
A revised four-year fleet plan, unveiled in late September 2014, included three A319s for fastjet Zambia in 2015, as well as four additional airplanes for Tanzania, two for Zimbabwe and one for Kenya. South Africa, which in the June 2014 version of the fleet plan was allocated three airplanes in 2015, was not included in this latest plan until 2016.
fastJet (FSJ), however, has already taken a step back from this plan. Mr Winter advised that the group is now taking a flexible approach to its fleet plan for 2015 and beyond.
The number of airplanes the group will add in 2015 hinges on how plans and approvals for new bases progress. Mr Winter said the fleet potentially could triple in size, which would suggest nine airplanes by the end of 2015 (still fewer than the up to 13 airplanes earlier envisioned).
(FSJ) plans to stick with A319s, as it resumes fleet expansion, but has not yet completed any deals for additional airplanes. The group is currently talking to several leasing companies and should not have any issues securing additional airplanes, when it is finally ready to expand as there are plenty of second hand A319s currently available.
(FSJ) recently took delivery of a 10-year-old ex-South African Airways (SAA) A319 from (ICBC), but this has been used to replace an older 15-year-old A319, which has been returned. The (ICBC) A319 is powered by (V2500)s and is currently in two-class 120-seat configuration, while the group’s other two A319s are powered by (CFM56)s and are in single-class 145Y-seat configuration. But (FSJ) plans to reconfigure the recently delivered A319 in early 2015 to its normal 145Y-seat single-class configuration. This airplane will also likely be moved to fastjet Zambia in 2015, as the Zambia fleet focuses on (V2500)s, while fastJet Tanzania receives additional (CFM56)-powered A319s.
The flexible approach to fleet expansion is sensible as it is difficult to predict how fast (or slow) approvals can take to secure in the bureaucratic context of the African regulatory environment. Market conditions and the competitive landscape can also change rapidly.
For example, in South Africa, fastJet (FSJ) is now closely monitoring the progress of South Africa’s other two (LCC) start-ups, FlySafair (SFA) and Skywise. FlySafair (SFA) launched in October 2014, while Skywise is now aiming to launch services in early 2015. fastJet still sees South Africa as a critical market in its long-term strategy but will be cautious with its timing.
South Africa would be completely a domestic play as (FSJ) has better odds at serving South Africa’s international market by using its other affiliates. South Africa’s traffic rights in most short-haul markets are all used up by South African Airways (SAA), and to a lesser extent British Airways (BAB) franchise partner, Comair (CML), while there are generally unused rights on the other side.
While (FSJ) remains interested in South Africa’s domestic market, rapid expansion by FlySafair (SFA) and Skywise could make it difficult to enter.
Another challenge (FSJ) continues to face, is securing traffic rights. Even once an (AOC) is secured in a particular country, it can take months or years to get the desired traffic rights.
For fastjet Zambia, South Africa is the main target market. (FSJ) is confident it can secure traffic rights for Lusaka - Johannesburg, a large market now dominated by South African Airways (SAA) with four daily flights, as there are currently no Zambian carriers on the route. But South Africa can be notoriously slow and difficult in approving any new foreign carrier from operating into South Africa. (FSJ) found this out the hard way in 2013 when South African approvals for its Tanzanian subsidiary dragged on for months, leading to repeated delays in launching Dar es Salaam - Johannesburg.
(FSJ) believes future applications to South Africa will be processed faster as South African authorities are now familiar with the group. But the fact remains that South Africa can be tempted to protect flag carrier (SAA), which relies on very high yielding regional routes to offset losses elsewhere, despite the obvious consumer benefits to opening up the international market to (LCC)s.
Kenyan authorities have appeared to be even colder to the prospect of new (LCC) competition. (FSJ) has still not been able to secure Kenyan approvals to serve Dar es Salaam - Nairobi, a large market now only served by Kenya Airways (KEN) with four daily flights. (FSJ) also has applied for three other Tanzania - Kenya routes (Dar es Salaam - Mombasa, Kilimanjaro - Nairobi, and Zanzibar - Nairobi) as well as fifth freedom rights for Entebbe - Nairobi.
Meanwhile, the process of launching fastJet Kenya also has encountered frustrating delays. fastJet Kenya’s application for an Air Service Licence (ASL) has been repeatedly deferred by Kenyan authorities since it was submitted in August 2014. (FSJ) continues to answer questions from Kenyan authorities but it is impossible to predict when a decision will made on the (ASL), which is needed for the (AOC) process to begin.
Access to Kenya, one of the largest markets in Africa, is essential. Even if (FSJ) is not able to launch a Kenyan carrier and enter Kenya’s domestic market, Nairobi is a key destination for its other bases. Kenyan authorities will hopefully start to recognize the potential positive impact that more (LCC)s would bring to the economy, particularly the tourism sector, and adopt a more liberal policy.
Kenyan authorities could potentially be waiting for Kenya Airways (KEN)'s budget subsidiary, Jambojet (JMB) to develop further. Jambojet (JMB) launched in April 2014 and currently only operates in Kenya’s domestic market.
All the delays in securing new traffic rights and (AOC)s are costly as competition on several of the routes targeted by (FSJ) is intensifying. For example, the Lusaka - Johannesburg route will likely no longer be an (SAA) monopoly by the time fastjet Zambia is awarded its (AOC) and secures all the required approvals from the South African side.
RwandAir (RWA) recently unveiled plans to launch Lusaka - Johannesburg in early 2015 using newly secured fifth freedom rights. New (LCC) group flyafrica.com (FZW) is also planning to launch services on March 9th 2015 between Lusaka and Johannesburg, also using fifth freedom rights.
flyafrica (FZW) currently has an affiliate in Zimbabwe, which operates from two Zimbabwean destinations to Johannesburg, and is in the process of launching a second affiliate in Namibia. The Namibian affiliate is planning to also serve South Africa and is the entity behind the planned Lusaka - Johannesburg sector. (flyafrica (FZW)’s outlook for 2015 will be analysed in a separate upcoming report to be published by (CAPA).)
(FSJ) launched operations nearly two years prior to flyafrica (FZW) but has not been able to leverage its first mover advantage due to all the delays in establishing new joint ventures (JV)s. (FSJ) now risks becoming the second (LCC) on several routes including Lusaka - Johannesburg and Harare - Johannesburg.
Zimbabwe is likely to emerge as an initial battleground between (FSJ) and flyafrica.com (FZW) as (FSJ) is now looking at establishing a Zimbabwean affiliate in 2015. The decision to pursue an affiliate in Zimbabwe, which was not part of the original (FSJ) business plan, seems like a strategic move in response to flyafrica (FZW). As Zimbabwe is a relatively small market (similar in size to neighboring Zambia), it may not be able to support two home-grown (LCC)s over the long term.
Mr Winter believes the Zimbabwe - South Africa market is large enough to support another new entrant and points out there are still unused traffic rights on the Zimbabwean side. Harare - Johannesburg is a large market ripe for (LCC) stimulation, as there is a high volume of ethnic and migrant worker traffic, which has traditionally traveled by bus.
(SAA) currently serves Harare - Johannesburg with five daily flights while South Africa’s Comair (CML), Air Zimbabwe (ZMB), and flyafrica.com (FZW) each operate one daily flight, according to Official Airline Guide (OAG) data.
fastjet Zimbabwe could also potentially compete with flyafrica.com (FSJ), (SAA) and Comair (CML) on the Victoria Falls - Johannesburg route. But as (FSJ) also plans to have an affiliate in Zambia it could instead opt to compete against (SAA) and (CML) on the Livingstone - Johannesburg route. Livingstone is on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls and is only about 30 km from Victoria Falls Airport.
(FSJ) plans to focus its Zambian operation on the capital Lusaka with domestic services to Ndola along with international services to Johannesburg, Lilongwe, and Nairobi. But (FSJ) plans to consider some services at Livingstone, which is primarily a leisure market.
Zimbabwe is now one of six target markets for (FSJ) along with Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia. The aim is eventually to establish affiliates in all these markets except Uganda, where (FSJ) envisions opening a base but using its Tanzanian certificate.
Uganda has one of Africa’s most liberal aviation policies and is keen to attract fifth freedom services to fill the void left by flag carrier Air Uganda (AUN), which suspended services in July 2014. (FSJ) announced in November 2014 that it had secured fifth freedom rights from Uganda for the Entebbe to Juba, Kigali, Nairobi, and Johannesburg routes.
The group does not believe it can support all the planned fifth freedom routes from Uganda by flowing through airplanes from Tanzania as the Dar es Salaam - Entebbe route is not likely to support more than one daily flight. A small base is therefore envisioned in Entebbe using fastjet Tanzania (FSJ) airplanes. This would create a de facto fastjet Uganda, without a Ugandan (AOC).
(FSJ) could however, run into challenges securing approvals from Kenya and South Africa for the planned Entebbe - Nairobi and Entebbe - Johannesburg routes. RwandAir (RWA) also secured fifth freedom rights from Uganda earlier this year for Entebbe - Nairobi but have been prevented from operating by Kenyan authorities. Kenya Airways (KEN) is currently the largest airline in the Uganda market with about an 18% share of seat capacity.
South Africa is also generally not receptive to fifth freedom applications and is likely to be keen to keep Johannesburg - Entebbe as a monopoly route for (SAA), particularly as (SAA) faces the prospect of new (LCC) competition in other regional international markets.
Entebbe - Kigali and Entebbe - Juba are relatively small markets that may not be able to support another new competitor. RwandAir (RWA) and Ethiopian (ETH) both recently launched Entebbe - Juba using newly awarded fifth freedom rights. (RWA) also now competes on the Entebbe - Kigali market with flydubai (FDB), which recently secured fifth freedom pick up rights from Uganda and Rwanda for the local sector of its Dubai - Entebbe - Kigali route.
Kigali and Juba may also be too small to sustain services from more than one (FSJ) base. Generally, (FSJ) is looking for destinations that can support services from multiple bases. This is a typical strategy for a regional (LCC) group, as connecting the dots provides for better economy of scales and synergies, as stations can be shared.
For example, (FSJ) envisions Lilongwe in Malawi as a destination from both Dar es Salaam and Lusaka, with both routes potentially launching in 2015. Johannesburg and Nairobi would be able to support several (FSJ) routes, even if the group does not succeed at launching local affiliates in South Africa and Kenya.
Some destinations, including Nairobi, could also be served from cities other than where the bases are located. For example, (FSJ) is now looking at operating some international routes from Tanzanian gateways other than Dar es Salaam (namely Mwanza and Zanzibar). ((FSJ) currently only operates domestic flights at Mwanza. Zanzibar, which is only about 70 km from Dar es Salaam by ferry, is served through a partnership with small regional carrier Coastal Aviation.)
2015 will be a critical year for (FSJ). After a slow initial two years, the group should finally be able to launch a second affiliate and expand its fleet beyond three airplanes. But once again, there will be challenges to overcome, including continued regulatory resistance in some markets and, increasingly as time passes, new (LCC) competition.
(FSJ) has been a pioneer in establishing the (LCC) model in East Africa. It has successfully stimulated demand by bringing the first taste of low fares to consumers in markets that traditionally have had some of highest average fares in the world.
(FSJ) however, has struggled financially and has had numerous regulatory setbacks. It has been unable to expand rapidly and therefore has not been able to exploit its first mover advantage. Other African (LCC)s will inevitably benefit from (FSJ)’s groundbreaking work and could end up pursuing faster expansion, overtaking the pioneer.
January 2015: Fastjet Tanzania (FSJ) had its first profitable month at (EBIT) level in December, boosted by high demand and lower fuel prices. “Yield per passenger rose +20% compared to December 2013, with total revenue for the month up +106% year-on-year. The contribution generated by the Tanzanian operation was sufficient to create an underlying operating profit for the month at the Fastjet (FSJ) group level.”
During December, (FSJ) carried 65,653 passengers, +75% up on December 2013. Load factor was two points up at 76% LF.
“The Tanzanian fleet of three airplanes is now producing more than double the monthly revenue compared to a year ago. This higher utilization, combined with higher per passenger revenues and lower fuel prices, has been transformational for the business,” (FSJ) Interim Chairman & (CEO), Ed Winter said.
This uptick is expected to continue into a “much improved” first quarter on a passenger number and yield basis, despite it being a traditional low period. This is the result of improved capacity management and lower fuel prices, which are expected to be -13% down in January, compared with December. “The company expects further reductions in February and March as the recent falls in the price of crude oil continue to flow through to African aviation fuel supplies. As stated in December, (FSJ) does not currently pre-purchase or “hedge” its future fuel price. The company pays current market rates for its fuel and is therefore realizing substantial benefits from the reduction in the cost of crude oil,” (FSJ) said.
March 2015: The devastating impact of sanctions by the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority against Kenya Airways (KEN) clearly prompted heavy political pressure on Kenya's top duo, and it appears that the lobbying and what essentially amounted to "get this sorted or else," messages bore fruit, when Kenya President Kenyatta spoke to Tanzania President Kikwete to lift sanctions imposed by both countries earlier on, at a lower level.
It is understood that Kenya Airways (KEN) and other Kenyan airlines will resume their full schedule with immediate effect and that Mwanza will also remain open for Kenyan airlines to operate into.
The result of presidential intervention also exposes the incredible stubbornness and "cutting off your nose to spite your face" attitude among tourism and aviation bureaucrats, and the responsible ministers on both sides of the border. Hotheads from Kenya and Tanzania for a few days were in a shouting match frenzy on social media and comment sections in the print media, and several notorious individuals even spoke of cutting diplomatic ties. This exposed their dire lack of common sense and their ability to seek compromise over confrontation, something they seem to thrive on.
In turn, Tanzanian tourist vehicles will again be able to access Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. First in December, and then again in February, this whole scenario was made impossible by a verdict of none other than the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for East African Affairs, who also still holds the tourism portfolio, clearly failing on both scores and paving the way for the confrontation.
It is hoped that the directive by the heads of state to resume deliberations, and it is understood that the entire range of issues from both sides will be put on the agenda, can bring their bureaucrats to heel, and have them do what is necessary to ensure continued smooth cross border operations for tourism and aviation.
Sources close to Tanzania's Fastjet (FSJ), an airline clearly meeting nationality requirements, as is outlined under the Bilateral Air Services Agreement between the two countries, are contrary to what ill-intended individuals have been peddling in public, having expressed quiet hope that their landing rights will soon be approved now that the spirit of give and take has resumed at the highest level of relations between the two countries.
Said an Arusha-based source: "Keeping these bans up, even in an election year, would have caused immense economic damage on both sides. This was the best outcome, and we hope that the next round of negotiations will reach agreement on a whole range of issues, all aimed to fully implement the East African Community [EAC] protocols in place about economic cooperation and access to each other's markets. We need to learn to be partners. Our parks and attractions complement each other. Serengeti and Masai Mara are trans-boundary ecosystems which need protecting and using in equal terms. Tsavo and Mkomanzi, and Amboseli and Kilimanjaro and Arusha National Park are adjoining, too, and I personally hope that sooner, rather than later, we can return to the pre-1977 modus operandum, when borders were open across the (EAC) and everyone could travel freely."
April 2015: Fastjet (FSJ) is planning to acquire more used Airbus A319s and expand into Kenya, South Africa, Zambia and, Zimbabwe after raising another £50 million/$74 million in fresh funding. “This fundraising is a transformative step towards achieving (FSJ)’s goal of building Africa’s most successful pan-continental, low-cost carrier (LCC),” (FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter said.
(FSJ) launched low-cost Airbus A319 operations from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 2012, and has since expanded to three airplanes, serving three domestic (Mwanza, Kilimanjaro, and Mbeya) and four international routes (Johannesburg, Harare, Entebbe, and Lusaka). However, plans to establish a network of (FSJ)-branded operations across Africa has been stilted by regulatory hurdles.
In a stock market filing, (FSJ) said its Tanzanian operation is “well placed” for further development. “The current fleet of three airplanes is now almost fully utilized and growth opportunities will require increased numbers of airplanes over the remainder of 2015. This will enable fixed overhead costs to be further spread over a larger operation,” it said.
(FSJ) is planning to expand its Tanzanian operation by increasing frequencies on all services, linking domestic destinations with routes such as Mwanza to Kilimanjaro, and adding more international routes “such as Nairobi, Lilongwe, Mombasa, and Lubumbashi.” It also plans to use its fifth freedom rights through Entebbe, following the demise of Air Uganda (UGA).
Beyond Tanzania, (FSJ) has identified four African countries with potential to establish "fastjet"-branded airlines. It already has air operator’s certificate (AOC) applications underway in Zambia and Zimbabwe. “There is a working capital requirement to fund further expansion and the launch and growth of operations in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and South Africa. This will be sufficient to build a sizeable operation in each country. Fastjet (FSJ) will use funds raised in excess of that needed for its working capital requirements to commence an acquisition program of used Airbus A319s,” it said.
In 2014, (FSJ) added 62% capacity and boosted its passenger numbers by +63%, pushing its load factor up one point to 73% LF. Average revenue per passenger rose +27%. In December 2014, (FSJ) Tanzania posted its first profitable month of operations. Its 2014 full-year results, which were “broadly in line with market expectations,” are due for release in the second quarter of 2015.
“Growth for 2015 is expected to come both from existing routes from our Tanzania base and the addition of new (FSJ) operations in Zambia and Zimbabwe,” (FSJ) said.
As part of the fund-raising process, (FSJ) is once again restructuring to reduce its “share price volatility,” consolidating 100 existing shares into one new share. Trading of the new shares is expected to begin on April 21.
Clive Carver has also been appointed as interim non-executive Chairman, replacing (FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter who had held the role on an interim basis. Carver has been tasked with appointing a new long-term, non-executive Chairman. Winter said this will allow him to “fully focus on the growth of the business.”
May 2015: Fastjet (FSJ) will add “a number” of jet airplanes to its fleet this year, starting with an initial Airbus A319 on lease from (ICBC) International Leasing Company.
In a stock market disclosure, (FSJ) said it has signed a letter of intent with (ICBC) covering a single A319 slated for entry into service (EIS) in the third quarter. In the meantime, the A319 will be reconfigured and painted with (FSJ)’s livery.
“With Fastjet (FSJ)’s current fleet of three airplanes almost fully utilized, additional airplanes will be required to support the planned expansion of Fastjet Tanzania and to facilitate the startup of planned new Fastjet (FSJ) operations in both Zambia and Zimbabwe,” it said.
Each airplane will add roughly +1,000 daily seats, or 275,000 annual passengers to (FSJ)’s operation, which is currently running at a 75% LF load factor.
“It will be a strong step forward to add another airplane to our fleet and embark on our planned expansion, funded by our recent £50 million/$78.6 million placing. We are currently negotiating to bring further airplanes into the fleet,” (FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter said.
Despite hitting hurdles with expansion plans, (FSJ) is still aiming to operate 34 airplanes across a network of 40 destinations by the end of 2018. These operations will span Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
June 2015: News Item A-1: Fastjet (FSJ) recorded a group loss after tax of -$72 million for the year ended December 31, 2014, compared to a restated post-tax loss of -$55.2 million for the preceding year.
Revenue reached $53.8 million, sharply up against last year’s restated figure of $26.1 million.
Fastjet (FSJ), which aims to become the first pan-African low-cost carrier, has made a loss since starting operations in 2012. However, according to interim Chairman, Clive Carver, the company’s future has been “transformed” by the completion, after the financial reporting period, of a £50 million/$76 million equity funding injection. This will provide the necessary level of funding for the company to grow, he said.
The past year has seen Fastjet (FSJ) suspending its legacy Fly540 Angola and Fly540 Ghana services and these are now considered to have been discontinued. (FSJ) acquired the Fly540 businesses (along with their parent, Lonrho Aviation) as a launch vehicle in June 2012.
(FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter said, “2014 has seen a significant increase in the number of passengers traveling on our core Tanzanian routes, with revenue more than doubling. Aircraft utilization grew sharply and average revenue per passenger also climbed, with our services such as seat selection proving increasingly popular with customers. Strong underlying traffic growth during the year, continues to demonstrate that Fastjet (FSJ)’s low-cost airline model works in the African market.” A high percentage of travelers were first-time flyers, he added.
Comparing 2014 with 2013, passengers flown increased +63%, while capacity rose +62%. Precise passenger numbers were not disclosed, but Fastjet (FSJ) said it had carried “carried more than >350,000 passengers in the first year of operations and sold one million seats by December 2014.”
Airplane utilization over 2014 as a whole rose to 7.9 hours compared to 5.9 the previous year and (by the end of the reporting period) had reached 10.2 hours. Load factor rose slightly, to 73.3% LF compared to 72.5% LF in 2013.
The current fleet of three Airbus A319s is now “nearly fully utilized,” with negotiations to lease a fourth A319 at an advanced stage and more planned to be added later this year.
Growth for 2015 is expected to come both from the core Tanzanian operation and from the addition of new Fastjet (FSJ) airlines in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
News Item A-2: Fly540 Ghana ((IATA) Code: 5G, based at Accra) has been sold to UK-based firm, "DWG-G" Company Limited, for the princely sum of USD1.00, owner fastjet plc (FSJ) has announced. "DWG-G" is the parent company of "DWG-G" Airways and "DWG-G" Cargo.
"The disposal of Fly540 Ghana is a great step forward in fastjet (FSJ)'s restructuring plans for our legacy businesses," Fastjet (FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter said.
fastjet (FSJ) acquired the Ghanaian low cost carrier (LCC) from Lonrho Aviation in 2012 but suspended its operations in May 2014 to allow for a company-wide restructuring. In the year ended December 31, 2014, Fly 540 Ghana recorded losses before tax of -USD11.3 million.
"Whilst West Africa remains of interest to us as a low-cost market in the future, our current focus is on expanding our footprint in Eastern and Southern Africa. fastjet (FSJ) has retained the right to discuss the introduction of the "fastjet" brand in West Africa, when it considers the economic conditions and infrastructural environment to be more favourable," he ended.
fastjet (FSJ) sold off Fly540 Ghana's sole remaining airplane, an ATR72-500 (826), in May last year alongside that of defunct sibling, Fly540 Angola (F5, Luanda).
Founded in 2010, Fly540 Ghana was originally a subsidiary of Fly540 (IATA) Code: 5H, based at Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta). It was the Kenyan (LCC)'s maiden venture into the West African market, offering budget domestic and regional services.
July 2015: News Item A-1: fastjet (FSJ) has added Malawi to its network with the launch on July 27 of 2x-weekly (Mondays and Fridays) service between its base at Dar es Salaam (DAR) in Tanzania and Lilongwe (LLW). The 970 km route is already served by Malawian Airlines (AML) which operates 3x-weekly, DHC-8-Q400 services. (FSJ) will operate one of its three A319s on the route. (FSJ) now serves destinations in South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, as well as Malawi. In June (FSJ) carried 65,216 passengers.
News Item A-2: "Fastjet Commits to Another Airbus A319" by (ATW) Victoria Moores, July 15, 2015.
fastjet (FSJ) has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with an undisclosed lessor for its 5th Airbus A319 and is preparing to take delivery of its fourth aircraft, which will be used to launch startup carrier fastjet Zimbabwe.
Fastjet (fsj) currently operates three A319s from Tanzania, which it says are almost fully utilized. Therefore, in May, fastjet (FSJ) detailed plans to take “a number” of aircraft this year, starting with an Airbus A319 from (ICBC) International Leasing slated for entry-into-service in the third quarter.
Giving a fleet development update, (FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter said: “Our expansion plans are on track, with our fourth A319 aircraft shortly being flown to Harare in preparation for the planned launch of fastjet Zimbabwe services. We have also signed a letter of intent (LOI) for our fifth A319 aircraft which, following painting and interior modifications, is due to be added to the fastjet Tanzania fleet for further expansion of that network.”
The African internal market is not yet liberalized, meaning airlines are forced to set up new carriers, or acquire stakes in existing airlines, to operate from other countries. Having hit problems with its attempts to acquire existing air operator’s certificates (AOCs) on other parts of the continent, fastjet (FSJ) is setting up new airlines in Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Fastjet (FSJ) secured its Zimbabwean air service permit (ASP) in March, paving the way for its (AOC), which it will use to serve various domestic and international destinations. No timeline was given for the new carrier, which will launch “in due course.” It has also secured its Zambian (ASP) and cleared the first phase of its (AOC) application.
(FSJ) always intended to launch fastjet-branded airlines across a range of African countries, but over the last two years, it has only established operations out of Tanzania. Despite hitting hurdles with expansion plans, fastjet (FSJ) is still aiming to operate 34 aircraft across a network of 40 destinations by the end of 2018. These operations will span Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
In June, fastjet (FSJ)’s passenger numbers rose +23% to 65,216, but load factor fell -10 points to 69% LF. “June incorporated Ramadan, a period that reduces demand considerably. During the month, we also introduced a new route linking Dar es Salaam, Tanzania with Lilongwe, Malawi and early sales are encouraging,” Winter said.
August 2015: Fastjet (FSJ) has signed a letter of intent (LOI) to buy another Airbus A319, which will be used to launch fastjet Zambia.
“The aircraft is expected to be ready for operations by the end of September 2015, and is planned as the first aircraft for the fastjet Zambia fleet,” fastjet said.
Fastjet (FSJ) has announced it will undergo a rapid fleet expansion since May, when it operated just three A319s. This latest commitment, if firmed, will double its total fleet to six aircraft.
“Our successful fundraising in April 2015 was, in part, to fund the acquisition of aircraft. We conducted an extensive review of available aircraft,” fastjet (CEO), Ed Winter said.
The African internal market is not yet liberalized, meaning airlines are forced to establish new carriers, or acquire stakes in existing airlines, to operate from other countries. Having hit problems with attempts to acquire existing air operator’s certificates (AOCs) on other parts of the continent, (FSJ) is setting up new airlines in Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The fourth A319 will be used to create fastjet Zimbabwe, and the fifth aircraft will be used to expand existing airline fastjet Tanzania, while this latest addition will be used to launch fastjet Zambia.
Each A319 will add roughly 1,000 daily seats (or 275,000 annual passengers) to fastjet (FSJ)’s operation, which is currently running at a 75% LF load factor.
Despite hitting hurdles with expansion plans, (FSJ) is still aiming to operate 34 aircraft across a network of 40 destinations by the end of 2018. These operations will span Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
September 2015: News Item A-1: fastjet Zimbabwe is expected to secure its air operator’s certificate (AOC) this month, following the arrival of its first aircraft.
News Item A-2: fastjet (FSJ) has named non-executive, Colin Child as Chairman, replacing Clive Carver, who has held the role on an interim basis since April 1, 2015.
Child will take up his new role with effect from October 1, 2015, when Carver will cease his temporary duties and resume his former duties as a Non-Executive Director.
Fastjet (FSJ) said Child, a chartered accountant with 20 years’ experience as a company director, has “extensive knowledge of international growth businesses.” He has previously held roles with companies including De La Rue, Rank Group, (DTZ) Holdings, Stanley Leisure and Fitness First.
“Colin brings with him valuable and highly relevant experience to fastjet (FSJ), which will enable him to make a significant contribution to the board and the strategic direction of the business,” (FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter said.
(FSJ) is about to hit a period of rapid growth, as it adds capacity to its Tanzanian operation and establishes start-up carriers in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
October 2015: News Item A-1: fastjet (FSJ) has been granted a Zimbabwean air operator’s certificate (AOC) and will launch operations on October 28.
The (AOC) marks a key milestone in (FSJ)'s plan to become a pan-African low-cost carrier (LCC). Fastjet Zimbabwe will be the group’s second airline, joining fastjet Tanzania, which launched Airbus A319 operations in November 2012.
“We are now in a position to launch our Zimbabwean operation,” fastjet (FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter said, announcing the (AOC) was awarded on October 6.
The (AOC) allows fastjet Zimbabwe to perform domestic and international routes within and from Zimbabwe, following an in-depth review of its company structure, planned operation and technical set-up. “The government will now designate fastjet Zimbabwe as a Zimbabwean airline on international routes to a number of East and Southern African countries,” (FSJ) said.
Fastjet Zimbabwe’s first route will be a 3x-weekly, A319 service between Harare and Victoria Falls.
The next launch will be fastjet Zambia, slated to begin operations in early December, followed by Kenya, Uganda and South Africa in 2016.
Fastjet (FSJ) still owns legacy business, Fly540 Angola, although this airline is grounded, awaiting sale or closure.
News Item A-2: "Fastjet Kenya Secures Air Service License" by (ATW) Victoria Moores, October 12, 2015.
fastjet Kenya has been granted an air service license (ASL), almost a year after the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) last year deferred the start-up's hearing, citing resistance from local operators, paving the way for its air operator’s certificate (AOC) application.
A 51/49 partnership between an undisclosed Kenyan national and the London-listed fastjet plc, Fastjet Kenya has encountered stiff resistance from local operators such as Kenya Airways (KEN), African Express Airways (AFX) and Fly SAX (EFZ), which collectively managed to block the nascent (LCC)'s original application for an (ASL) a year ago.
Fastjet Kenya plans to launch with domestic flights in 2016. It will join fastjet Tanzania (FSJ) (which is already operational), fastjet Zimbabwe (which is due for launch October 28) and fastjet Zambia (which is slated to begin operations in early December). The group is also planning airline launches in Uganda and South Africa in 2016.
“The granting of the Kenya (ASL) is a major step forward in (FSJ)’s plans to become a truly pan-African low-cost carrier (LCC). Following recently announced progress towards the Zambia (AOC) and the receipt of our (AOC) in Zimbabwe, this announcement signals a very substantial acceleration in the development of the (FSJ) network and our future growth plans,” (FSJ) (CEO), Ed Winter said.
The (AOC) application process will involve an in depth review of fastjet Kenya’s planned safety management system, operational manuals and structures, its senior staff, fleet, maintenance facilities and technical capability. An early stage of the process includes agreeing to a timetable for the application process with the (KCAA).
On October 8, (FSJ) also announced it had signed an interline agreement with Emirates (EAD), aimed at boosting traffic for both carriers. “Not only will it allow us access to the millions of passengers that (EAD) carries, but it is also a significant validation of our operation, service and proven low-cost model,” (FSJ) Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), Richard Bodin said.
Under the deal, Emirates (EAD) passengers will be able to book fastjet (FSJ) tickets on all of Emirates (EAD)'s sales channels using a bespoke link between (EAD) and (FSJ)'s reservations system.
News Item A-3: "Fastjet Zimbabwe Launches Operations" by (ATW) Victoria Moores, October 28, 2015.
See attached "FSJ-2015-10 - FastJet Zimbabwe 1st Flight.jpg."
Startup carrier fastjet Zimbabwe operated its first flight on October 28, making its debut between Harare and Victoria Falls.
The inaugural flight, operated by a 144-seat Airbus A319, departed Harare at 1400 local time and was met by a traditional water canon salute on arrival at Victoria Falls an hour later.
Fastjet Zimbabwe will initially serve Harare - Victoria Falls 3x-weekly, although frequencies will be ramped up in line with demand. The new carrier is aiming to stimulate the market, with up to 40% of its passengers flying for the first time, rather than taking a long bus journey between the cities.
It also plans to add international services, linking Harare with South Africa, Kenya, Zambia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Botswana and Malawi.
Over the course of the next three years, fastjet expects to invest $15 million in the Zimbabwean airline and employ approximately 200 people directly.
“The country needs bold new enterprises like fastjet Zimbabwe to assist the government to achieve its objective of growing the economy,” Zimbabwe Transport & Infrastructure Minister, Joram Gumbo said.
December 2015: Fastjet ((IATA) Code: FN, based at Dar-es-Salaam) (FSJ) has secured Kenyan traffic rights following protracted negotiations between the Tanzanian and Kenyan authorities. (FSJ), the Tanzanian low cost carrier (LCC) said last week that daily return flights from Kilimanjaro and Dar-es-Salaam to Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta would launch with effect from January 11, 2016.
Flights between Zanzibar and Nairobi, as well as Dar es Salaam and Mombasa are also expected to roll out later in 2016.
"Fastjet Tanzania (FSJ) has been working towards the launch of these routes for some time and we are extremely pleased that clearance has now been granted to commence operations," Ed Winter Chief Executive Officer of fastjet (FSJ) said.
Though (FSJ) had planned to launch flights to Kenya earlier this year, it struggled to secure the requisite traffic rights from Nairobi. Prior to talks between Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta and his (now former) Tanzanian counterpart, Jakaya Kikwete in March, Kenya had refused to grant (FSJ) traffic rights ostensibly over concerns Fastjet (FSJ)'s share and managerial makeup did not satisfy effective ownership and control criteria for it to qualify as a designated Tanzanian carrier under the terms of the 2 countries' Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA).
January 2016: "Fastjet (FSJ) Adds Kenya; Seeks New (CEO)" by (ATW)
Victoria Moores, January 13, 2016.
Fastjet (FSJ) (CEO) Ed Winter has decided to step down, just days after fastjet Tanzania (FSJ) launched its long-awaited services to Kenya.
In a stock market disclosure, released January 13, Winter said he is leaving (FSJ) after “four intensive years of work and overseas travel” to focus on his other personal and professional interests.
Winter will continue to lead (FSJ) until a successor is found. After that process has been completed, he will stay on “in an advisory capacity for an agreed period of time” to assist with the handover.
“Despite being confronted with numerous challenges, Ed has succeeded in successfully opening hubs in Tanzania and Zimbabwe, providing multiple domestic services, and has won international rights to fly from Tanzania to South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, and Malawi. Recent approval to operate flights to and within Kenya is also a major step forward in growing (FSJ)’s route network,” (FSJ) Chairman Colin Child said.
(FSJ) was granted Kenyan route rights on December 23, 2015, triggering the launch of daily Nairobi flights from Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro on January 11. Zanzibar - Nairobi and Dar es Salaam - Mombasa routes will be added later in 2016.
Winter described these Kenyan permissions as “a major change in (FSJ)’s ability to grow.” (FSJ) already holds a Kenyan air service license and is working to set up an airline in the country in 2016.
Fastjet (FSJ) has 2 active airlines in the group, its original fastjet Tanzania (FSJ) operation and fastjet Zimbabwe, which launched domestic flights in October 2015 and is expected to start international services soon.
Another startup carrier, fastjet Zambia, was expected to launch in late 2015, but it has been delayed and final stage of its air operator’s certificate (AOC) application is now expected to be completed in early 2016.
In September 2015, the group also detailed plans to launch fastjet-branded operations in +3 more countries in 2016 (namely Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa).
Meanwhile, fastjet Tanzania (FSJ) is experiencing headwinds due to the country’s presidential election, which has reduced civil service traffic and general air travel demand across the country. “Fastjet (FSJ) is proactively taking steps to manage its operating costs and overheads, and fully align its growth strategy with demand,” (FSJ) said in a pre-Christmas trading update, which cautioned that it will post lower than anticipated revenues in 2015 and 2016.
“The board believes 2016 will be a year of network growth and that the group is expected to be cash flow positive for the next financial year,” it concluded.
fastjet (FSJ) on January 11 launched 4 services which included its 1st connection to Kenya, with (FSJ) inaugurating a daily service to Nairobi (NBO) from both Dar es Salaam (DAR) and Kilimanjaro (JRO). “Today’s flights are an important milestone in (FSJ)’s development and mark a significant achievement for the company. We have been working towards the launch of these routes for some time and are excited to be bringing our proven low-cost model to a new destination,” said Ed Winter (CEO) (FSJ). Kenya becomes the 7th country market for (FSJ) after Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Services on both routes will face direct competition, with Kenya Airways (KEN) already operating 35x-weekly flights between the Kenyan and Tanzanian capitals. “The fact is that competition is good for consumers. It brings choice and it brings air fares down,” said Jimmy Kibati (FSJ) General Manager for East Africa. On the same day, (FSB) also launched a domestic link between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar (ZNZ), a route which is only 71 km, making it the shortest A320 family operated service. (FSJ) also launched services to the latter from Johannesburg (JNB). All 4 routes launched will be operated by (FSJ)’s A319 fleet and all will face direct competition.
Routes as follows:
Dar es Salaam (DAR) to Nairobi (NBO) A319 7x- vs Kenya Airways (KEN) 35x-, to Zanzibar (ZNZ) A319 12x- vs Coastal Aviation 63x-, ZanAir 60x-, Flightlink 35x-, Precision Air (PRT) 14x-, and Tropical Air 2x-,
Johannesburg (JNB) TO (ZNZ) A319 7x-, vs Mango 2x-, Nairobi (NBO) to Kilimanjaro (JRO) A319 7x-, vs (PRT) 18x-, and (KEN) 10x-.
1 A319-112 (2891, 5H-FJG), ex-(F-WTDD) delivery.
February 2016: fastjet Zimbabwe on February 1 commenced services between Harare (HRE) and Johannesburg (JNB). The African low cost carrier (LCC) will operate the 958 km sector daily, using its fleet of A319s to connect the 2 cities.
Competition comes in the form of 3 airlines, namely South African Airways (SAA), Comair (CML) and Air Zimbabwe (ZMB), which offer a combined 42x-weekly flights between the Zimbabwean capital and South Africa’s largest city. Commenting on the launch, Richard Bodin fastjet (FSJ)’s (CCO), stated: “Today’s flight is an important milestone in (FSJ)’s route expansion and is a result of working closely with the governments and civil aviation authorities of Zimbabwe and South Africa to bring affordable, reliable, safe, and on-time flights between the two countries.” Harare becomes the 3rd destination for fastjet (FSJ) from Johannesburg, with (FSJ) also serving Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, with the latter recently being launched on January 11. (FSJ) is also expected to launch its 4th route from Johannesburg on February 3 to Victoria Falls.
March 2016: News Item A-1: African low-cost carrier (LCC) fastjet (FSJ) has issued a 3rd profit warning in a year and has said it may have to raise further funds later in 2016.
The profit warning came days after major shareholder, Stelios Haji-Ioannou called for an extraordinary general meeting with the aim of firing (CEO) Ed Winter and another director, complaining about management salary levels and that the company is run from London, rather than Africa.
Winter has already intimated his departure, but Haji-Ioannou wants to make this immediate.
Tanzania-based, (FSJ) plans to set up operations in multiple African nations, but this process has taken longer than anticipated.
In a trading update issued to the London Stock Exchange, fastjet (FSJ) said, “The challenging market conditions affecting much of the African aviation industry have been a lot more prolonged than management originally forecast.”
It planned further measures to reduce its operating costs and overheads including a reduction in capacity and rationalization of its route network to align it with current demand.
“Based on current management forecasts, the board expects results for 2016 to be materially below market expectations and the group no longer expects to be cash flow positive for the year.
“With >$20 million of cash available at the end of February 2016, and based on current forecasts, it has sufficient funds to meet its operational requirements.” However, it added, “The board may consider raising further funds during the year to provide additional headroom and ensure the company has the necessary resources to fund future growth as market conditions improve.
“The company remains confident in its low-cost carrier (LCC) model and is well positioned to capture the significant growth potential of the developing African aviation market.”
News Item A-2: "EasyJet Founder Seeks to Dismiss Fastjet (CEO), Director" by (ATW) Alan Dron, March 3, 2016.
EasyJet (EZY) Founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who is also a major shareholder in young African low-cost carrier (LCC) fastjet (FSJ), has called an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) in a bid to dismiss (FSJ) (CEO) Ed Winter and Director & Group General Counsel Krista Bates.
Haji-Ioannou, a 12% shareholder in (FSJ) through his easyGroup private investment vehicle, said in a letter to (FSJ) Chairman Colin Child that he had “lost faith in the management and current board [of (FSJ)]” and that “unless the board does some serious cost-cutting, the company will soon run out of cash.”
Haji-Ioannou has also been a rumbustious shareholder at easyJet (EZY) since he stepped down from a leading role there, repeatedly clashing with the current management over issues such as the company’s rate of expansion.
Fastjet (FSJ) began operations in Tanzania just >1 year ago and in October last year started flights with sister-operation Fastjet Zimbabwe. The company plans to open similar operations in several other African nations.
A spokesman for Haji-Ioannou said on March 3 that the complaint was based on 2 main factors: (FSJ)’s headquarters location and management salary levels at the company.
“(FSJ) is run out of [London] Gatwick, which is absolutely ludicrous. It’s a sub-Saharan airline; it should be run out of Africa. We think the salaries are too high for a company that’s clearly struggling,” he said, adding the company had issued 2 profit warnings in the past year.
Winter has already intimated that he plans to stand down, but Haji-Ioannou wants his immediate dismissal.
In a statement responding to the call for an (EGM), (FSJ) said that since its 2012 launch, it had made “considerable progress toward its goal to become African’s first true low-cost, pan-African airline, despite facing significant challenges outside the company’s control.
“In line with its stated intentions, proceeds from the company’s fundraising in April 2015 have been used to fund expansion and the growth of its operations. This is demonstrated by the launch of (FSJ)’s 2nd base in Zimbabwe, the launch of multiple new routes since the fundraising, and the recent commencement of flights to Kenya. Fastjet (FSJ) also, as promised, acquired its 1st aircraft with the purchase of 1 Airbus A319.
“In December, (FSJ) also announced that flights between Tanzania and Kenya would commence following approval from the Kenya aviation authorities and the 1st flights began last month. This marks a major step forward in (FSJ)’s plans to expand and grow its route network further in East Africa’s biggest and most advanced economy.”
News Item A-3: Fastjet (FSJ) (CEO) Ed Winter has brought forward his leaving date to March 18, triggering the cancellation of an extraordinary general meeting calling for his removal.
After 4 years with fastjet (FSJ), Winter’s departure was announced January 13. Initial plans called for him to leave once a successor had been appointed and the handover completed.
However, he has been facing opposition from easyJet (EZY) Founder and fastjet (FSJ) shareholder, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who has vocally blamed Winter for (FSJ)’s “ridiculously high cost base.”
Haji-Ioannou owns 12.6% of (FSJ) through easyGroup and on February 29 he used his voting rights to call an extraordinary general meeting, demanding the removal of both Winter and (FSJ) General Counsel, Krista Bates.
“We do not consider that the current open-ended arrangement whereby he [Winter] remains as (CEO) until a successor is found and then remains on as a consultant for a period of 1 year is conducive to cost cutting,” Haji-Ioannou said in a letter dated February 29, flagging fastjet (FSJ)'s London Gatwick headquarters location and management salary levels among his grievances.
Haji-Ioannou has also been a rumbustious shareholder at easyJet (EZY) since he stepped down from a leading role there, repeatedly clashing with the current management over issues such as the company’s rate of expansion.
On March 14, (FSJ) announced that Bates will step down with immediate effect and that Winter’s departure has been brought forward to March 18. Work was already underway to identify Winter’s successor; given his prior plans to leave, headhunters were appointed in January.
Colin Child, who was appointed as (FSJ) non-executive Chairman in September 2015, will become Executive Chairman until a new (CEO) is appointed and (CCO) Richard Bodin will become (COO) on a “temporary basis.” The remainder of the (FSJ) executive committee is made up of (CFO) Lisa Mitchell and group Operations Director Dave Thomas.
Given the changes, (FSJ) said it is unnecessary to convene the meeting “requisitioned” by easyGroup Holdings.
Haji-Ioannou welcomed the news, saying it is long overdue.
(FSJ), which 1st launched in Tanzania in November 2012, has undergone a series of breakthroughs over recent months. It has established a 2nd international airline in Zimbabwe, fastjet Tanzania has secured pivotal international expansion to Kenya after a 3-year wait and the group has doubled its fleet from 3 to 6 A319s.
(FSJ) is also finally making headway in Kenya, where it plans to establish another airline, and work is well underway toward securing an air operator’s certificate (AOC) for Fastjet Zambia (its most advanced startup project).
However, Fastjet (FSJ) has faced longer-than-anticipated turbulence in some of its key markets, triggering 2 profit warnings. “Challenging market conditions affecting much of the African aviation industry have been a lot more prolonged than management originally forecast,” the group said in a trading update issued to the London Stock Exchange on March 7.
Despite taking action on costs, reducing capacity and rationalizing its route network, (FSJ)’s 2016 performance will be materially below market expectations. “The group no longer expects to be cash flow positive for the year,” it said.
Fastjet (FSJ) said it had >$20 million in cash available at the end of February 2016. “Based on current forecasts, it has sufficient funds to meet its operational requirements. The board may consider raising further funds during the year to provide additional headroom and ensure the company has the necessary resources to fund future growth as market conditions improve.”
Fastjet (FSJ) shareholder Stelios Haji-Ioannou has accused (FSJ) of being in breach of its brand license, deepening the rift with airline management. Haji-Ioannou, Founder and former Chairman of the easyGroup, which owns the (FSJ) brand license and a 12.6% stake in (FSJ). Building on earlier tensions, which recently triggered the departure of fastjet (FSJ) (CEO) Ed Winter, Haji-Ioannou wrote to (FSJ) Chairman Colin Child on March 17.
June 2016: Fastjet (FSJ) narrowed its net losses in 2015, recording a deficit of -$16.9 million compared to its -$58.5 million loss a year earlier.
It achieved the result on revenue on continuing activities up +21% to $65.1 million, up from $53.8 million for the year-ago period. Passenger numbers rose +32% to almost 788,000 in 2015.
The improved figures failed to satisfy major shareholder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who has been waging a running battle with the airline’s directors and demanding cost-cutting measures, notably moving the airline’s HQ from London to Africa.
Fastjet (FSJ) is bidding to become the 1st pan-African low cost carrier (LCC), but has had a stuttering 1st few years, as several markets failed to mature as quickly as hoped.
Among 2015’s highlights, the company noted that fastjet Zimbabwe had begun operations and that an equity fund-raising operation had garnered $75 million. Rationalization of its route network was progressing well, while legacy operations in Ghana and Angola had been disposed of.
Executive Chairman Colin Child said 2015 had been “a year of change and challenge.” Its Tanzanian operations had made progress, but had been hampered in the 2nd half of the year by a weakening Tanzanian economy, deteriorating exchange rate and political uncertainty in the country. These factors had led to a fall in consumer spending and a negative effect on ticket sales.
The airline had taken actions to mitigate these problems, reducing costs and cutting underperforming services. It was continuing to match capacity to the lower demand now forecast.
However, the directors cautioned that “despite the increase in revenues in 2015 … the current economic and trading outlook in fastjet’s markets remains uncertain. As a consequence, the Group expects to continue to experience significant challenges in achieving the increased sales revenue and growth required to be cash flow positive in the short term.”
This failed to impress Haji-Ioannou, Chairman of easyGroup (EZY), the owner of the fastjet (FSJ) brand and a 12.3% shareholder in the airline.
Haji-Ioannou’s opposition to former (CEO) Ed Winter, saw the latter leave the company earlier this year and in a statement issued following the results announcement, Haji-Ioannou said the easyGroup “no longer has any faith in Colin Child’s ability to appoint a new (CEO) in the near future.”
The statement cast doubt on fastjet (FSJ’s comments regarding the weakening Tanzanian economy and complained that there was still no word on closing down the Gatwick office. It also demanded that more detailed figures be published on expenses such as maintenance, fuel and airport costs.
July 2016: African low-cost carrier (LCC) fastjet (FSJ) has raised a new tranche of capital through a share placement.
(FSJ) (which aims to be a pan-African company but has had a stuttering start because of several factors including difficulties in the economies of nations where it is operating) placed 30 million new ordinary shares, raiding gross proceeds of £15 million/$19.6 million.
The shares were offered and taken up within hours in London, where fastjet (FSJ) has its corporate HQ. Its operational base is Tanzania and it has recently launched a sister company in Zimbabwe.
The placement is conditional on shareholders’ approval at a general meeting, expected to be held on August 8.
(FSJ) has experienced opposition from its largest shareholder, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who is also the company’s brand owner. He has repeatedly urged (FSJ) to close its London HQ and has warned that it is running out of money. Haji-Ioannou did not participate in the fund-raising exercise, his spokesman said.
September 2016: Fastjet ((IATA) Code: FN, based at Dar-es-Salaam) (FSJ) is set to replace the bulk of its A319-100 fleet with Embraer (EMB) E190s.
December 2016: Fastjet (FSJ)) has wet-leased A319-100 (3564, LZ-FBA) from Bulgaria Air ((IATA) Code: FB, based at Sofia) (LZB) Skyliner Aviation has reported. The A319-100 was positioned from Sofia, Bulgaria to Harare International, Zimbabwe for FastJet Zimbabwe operations.
January 2017: Johannesburg, South Africa-based Solenta Aviation Holdings is to acquire 28% of African low-cost carrier (LCC) fastjet (FSJ) as part of a $48 million equity deal, which is expected to be finalized by January 24.
Under the agreement, which is subject to (FSJ) shareholder approval on January 23, Solenta will receive 95.6 million fastjet (FSJ) shares, worth $19.2 million, and 2 board nominations. In return, Solenta will provide (FSJ) with 3 wet-leased aircraft and other services over the next 5 years.
Solenta operates a fleet of 49 aircraft. It is a commercial aviation group that holds 5 African air operator’s certificates (AOCs) and has strategic alliances, or (AOC)s pending, in an additional 7 African countries.
Fastjet (FSJ) will list a total of 239,082,993 shares on the London Stock Exchange on January 24, raising $19.2 million from the Solenta agreement and $28.8 million from other related transactions. “Our agreement with Solenta represents a good operational and strategic fit. It provides (FSJ) with access to fleet and related services which, together with the funds raised through our proposed placing, will allow us to successfully implement the final stages of our stabilization plan,” (FSJ)’s new (CEO) and interim Chairman Nico Bezuidenhout said in a January 5 stock market disclosure.
(FSJ) launched operations in Tanzania in November 2012 and has been trying to establish itself as a pan-African (LCC). However, the group’s strategy has progressed more slowly than anticipated because of regulatory hurdles and shifting demand in the African market. In late 2016, (FSJ) announced a stabilization plan, which will see it transition from 145-seat Airbus A319s to Embraer E190s. This will initially be done through short-term wet leases, before switching to dry leases at the start of the 2nd half of 2017. Solenta has experience working with Embraer (EMB) aircraft and securing local regulatory approvals for the Brazilian aircraft, so the partnership is expected to help the fleet transition.
(FSJ) has also come under shareholder pressure to cut its cost base. (FSJ) is rationalizing the network and will relocate its headquarters from London to Johannesburg by March 2017. These measures are expected to cut -$8 million from the group’s 1st quarter 2017 costs. “We have made good progress with the plan and the near-term priority continues to be to fully stabilize the business and to reach cash flow breakeven by the 4th quarter of this year. As well as helping us to achieve this objective, the fundraising and Solenta agreement will also provide the platform from which to flexibly and cost-effectively pursue (FSJ)’s medium- to long-term objective of becoming the 1st truly pan-African, low-cost airline,” Bezuidenhout said.
March 2017: fastjet (FSJ) has recruited another 2 former South African Airways (SAA) group executives as Chairman and (CFO).
Rashid Wally will take up the new role as fastjet (FSJ) non-executive Chairman on April 1, moving from his current Chairman’s role with (SAA) low-cost subsidiary Mango (MGO).
He has been hired by (FSJ) (CEO) Nico Bezuidenhout, who also came from Mango (MGO) and has held the (FSJ) Chairmanship on an interim basis since November 2016.
Aside from his airline experience, Wally spent 38 years in Information Technology (IT), where he held senior roles with (IBM) in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, SE Asia and Lenovo in Africa. “He is highly regarded for his corporate turnaround experience, having successfully completed many restructuring projects in his previous roles. Mr Wally also has significant corporate governance expertise, which will benefit fastjet (FSJ) as it continues to expand and develop,” (FSJ) said in a March 24 market update.
(FSJ) also named Michael Muller as its new (CFO), replacing Lisa Mitchell who will leave around April 30. Muller previously worked in management accounting for (SAA) and its catering subsidiary Air Chefs, but has been with fastjet since November 2016, working out of the company’s Johannesburg offices.
“These appointments, which will further strengthen and balance the fastjet (FSJ) board, constitute another important building block in (FSJ)’s wider stabilization plan and the transformation of its business,” fastjet (FSJ) said.
Bezuidenhout said the benefits of the stabilization plan are “beginning to materialize.”
July 2017: News Item A-1: "Fastjet Acquires Full Brand Rights for $2.5 million" by (ATW) Victoria Moores firstname.lastname@example.org, July 5, 2017.
African low-cost carrier (LCC) fastjet (FSJ) has paid $2.5 million to acquire the full intellectual property rights behind its brand from UK company, the easyGroup.
The fastjet (FSJ) brand was established in 2012 by the easyGroup and Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who founded easyJet (ezy) in 1995. Under the June 29 brand purchase agreement, Johannesburg-headquartered fastjet (FSJ) said it will make “significant savings” on royalties it would have paid over 5 years.
“I have accepted the view of the current board that the company should own its own brand rather than license it from me. I feel we have agreed to a fair price for its transfer,” Haji-Ioannou said. The easyJet (EZY) Founder still holds around £1.3 million/$1.7 million worth of fastjet (FSJ) shares. Haji-Ioannou is a vocal shareholder, but he is encouraged by the performance of the new management team.
“Brand development is an integral part of building a successful consumer facing business and represents a substantial investment for any airline (it logically follows that your brand, an asset to be leveraged for the benefit of shareholders, should be under your full control and ownership. We are happy to have reached agreement with Sir Stelios and appreciate the ongoing confidence he has expressed in the fastjet (FSJ) business and leadership team,” (FSJ) (CEO) Nico Bezuidenhout said.
Bezuidenhout added that fastjet (FSJ) is making “steady progress” with its turnaround, which has seen the company relocate from Gatwick to Johannesburg, shift from Airbus A319s to smaller Embraer E-Jets and rationalize its operations in Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
“These steps are having the desired effect and accordingly (FSJ) aims to achieve a cash flow breakeven position for the final quarter of 2017. The company, aiming to leverage its relationship with Solenta Aviation Holdings, a strategic investor who acquired a shareholding in fastjet in January 2017 and who has an operational footprint in many African countries, is in the process of evaluating expansion options to further geographies and looks forward to making further announcements in due course,” (FSJ) said.
Dar es Salaam-based Fastjet Tanzania launched flights in November 2012 and now operates domestic flights to Kilimanjaro, Mbeya, and Mwanza, as well as international routes to Lusaka in Zambia and Harare in Zimbabwe. Fastjet Zimbabwe launched in October 2015 and now flies domestically from Harare to Victoria Falls, and internationally to Johannesburg in South Africa. Together, the airlines have flown >2.5 million passengers.
“We are investigating several opportunities across the continent and plan to develop new markets and network points through prudent growth underpinned by sound commercial principles,” Bezuidenhout said.
Click below for photos:
FSJ-A319 - 2012-07
FSJ-A319 - 2012-10
FSJ-A319 - 2012-11
FSJ-A319 - 2012-12
FSJ-A319 - 2012-12-A
FSJ-A319-100 - 2014-01
1 A319-100 (CFM56-5B), LSD FOR FASTJET ZIMBABWE.
1 A319-100 (CFM56-5B) (3564, LZ-FBA), BULGARIA AIR (LZB) WET-LSD FOR FASTJET ZIMBABWE OPERATIONS.
1 A319-111 (CFM56-5B5) (2176, /04 5H-FJA "VERONICA"), EX-(EZY), EX-(G-EZEF) VOLITO AVIATION LSD 2012-10, FOR FASTJET TANZANIA OPS. 156Y.
1 A319-112 (V2522-A5) (2891, 5H-FJG), EX-(F-WTDD), 2016-01. 145Y.
2 A319-112 (CFM565-5B6) (1068, /99 5H-FJB; 1145, /99 5H-FJC), EX-(F-GYFM & F-GYJM) FOR FASTJET TANZANIA OPS. 145Y.
1 A319-131 (V2522-A5) (2281, Z-FJE "CECIL THE LION"), EX-(5H-FJR) (ICBC) INTERNATIONAL LEASING CO, EX-(SAA), EX-(ZS-SFE), FOR FASTJET ZAMBIA OPS. TWO CLASS, 25C, 95Y.
2 DC-9-14 (JT8D-7B HK) (4-45711, /65 5Y-XXB; 19-45725, /65 5Y-XXA), EAST AFRICAN SAFARI AIR WET-LSD 2004-03. 10C, 70Y.
0 ATR 72-500 (PW127M), 826 & 949 SOLD TO ELIX ASSETS 7 LTD 2014-12. 12C, 54Y.
3 BOMBARDIER CRJ-100ER (CL-600-2B19) (CF34-3A1) (7011, /11 5H-ETG; 7042, /94 5Y-BXD; 7184, /97 5Y-BXC), AVMAX AIRCRAFT LSG LSD 2011-07. 50Y.
1 BOMBARDIER DHC-8-106 (PW120A) (253, /90 5Y-BUZ), AVMAX AIRCRAFT LSG LSD 2007-07. 37Y.
1 FOKKER F28-4000 FELLOWSHIP (SPEY 555-15P) (11229, /86 5Y-EEE), EAST AFRICAN SAFARI WET-LSD 2007-06. 8C, 62Y.
2 BEECHCRAFT 1900C (PT6A-67D) (UC-088, /89 5Y-BSS; UE-118, /94 5Y-BTN), 19Y.
1 CESSNA GRAND CARAVAN 208B (PT6A-114A) (0525, /96 5Y-CAC), 9Y.
Click below for photos:
FSJ-1-Colin Child - 2016-02.jpg
FSJ-2-ED WINTER - 2012-12
FSJ-2-ED WINTER - 2013-01
FSJ-2-ED WINTER - 2013-03
FSJ-2-ED WINTER - 2013-10
FSJ-3-Captain Ed Lanca -2016-02.jpg
FSJ-5-Captain Joe Mparuri-C-2016-02.jpg
RASHID WALLY, FASTJET (FSJ) NON-EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, EX-MANGO (MGO)/(SAA) (2017-04).
Rashid spent 38 years in Information Technology (IT), where he held senior roles with (IBM) in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, SE Asia and Lenovo in Africa.
NICO BEZUIDENHOUT, INTERIM CHAIRMAN & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER (CEO), EX-MANGO (MGO) (2016-11).
COLIN CHILD, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN (2015-10).
Colin replaced Clive Carver who had held the role on an interim basis since April 1, 2015. He took up his role with effect from October 1, 2015, when Clive ceased his temporary duties and resumed his former duties as a non-executive director.
As a chartered accountant with 20 years’ experience as a company director, Colin has “extensive knowledge of international growth businesses.” He previously held roles with companies including De La Rue, Rank Group, (DTZ) Holdings, Stanley Leisure and Fitness First.
CLIVE CARVER, NON-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR (2014-06) & INTERIM CHAIRMAN (2015-04).
Clive resumed his former duties as a Non-Executive Director in October 2015.
ED WINTER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER (CEO) (2013-06).
Ed has over >40 years of airline experience spanning from the traditional full service model of (BOAC)/British Airways (BAB) through to one of the most successful low cost carriers (LCC)s, easyJet (EZY).
Ed started his aviation career as a pilot (FC) with (BOAC). He held a number of senior management positions within British Airways (BAB) including Chief Pilot and Head of Operations (BA) Regional, Chief Pilot London Gatwick and Chief Pilot Long haul Airplanes. He was a Founder Director & Chief Operating Officer (COO) of low cost carrier (LCC) Go Fly (GFL), and grew the airline profitably to operate 28 airplanes.
Following an (MBO) and the subsequent sale of (GFL) to easyJet (EZY), Ed had the role of Integration Director, whilst also acting as (CEO) of (GFL). Once the integration process at easyJet (EZY) was complete, Ed served as Chief Operating Officer (COO), steering the company through a period of rapid and profitable expansion, opening new bases across Europe and introducing Airbus airplanes. More recently, Ed served as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Air Services (NAS) in Saudi Arabia.
30 SECOND INTERVIEW BY anna.aero
After several delays, fastjet (FSJ) launched its 1st international route to Johannesburg from its Dar es Salaam base in Tanzania. Relief all round then for (FSJ)’s management team, headed by industry veteran Ed Winter (who cut his low-cost carrier (LCC) teeth with Go Fly (GFL) and easyJet (EZY)), as this important milestone has been finally reached, while (FSJ) is building up its domestic and international operations in Tanzania. Over the coming months, the medium-term will see the Fastjet (FSJ) brand expand across sub-Saharan Africa. anna.aero caught up with Ed Winter to understand (FSJ)’s grand plan.
anna.aero: Currently you have 3 airplanes: Are they fully utilized?
Ed Winter: You’re right, they’re not working absolutely flat-out, but we had planned to start our international routes earlier than we did, so we are resourced up to do more. The start of international services [October 18] represents a new era for us, so the airplanes will definitely be more occupied over the next few months. Dependent on demand, we will want to see the Johannesburg frequency increased next [started at 3x-weekly], as we want to make sure we satisfy passenger demand on this route, particularly as South African Airways (SAA) flies it 12x-weekly. We also believe that with our low fares, we can stimulate demand on this route significantly. So we can react swiftly to the short-term requirements on Johannesburg, we will probably hold back a while on the opening up of Lusaka.
aa: Any plans to add to the fleet in the next 2 years?
EW: Presently, we are taking all of our airplanes on operating leases, and with a plentiful supply at the moment, you can get an extra unit on-line in <2 months. This means we can tailor fleet growth to our network requirements. At this stage in our development, the last thing we need is a fixed flow of new airplanes arriving every few months. That will change when we are bigger, of course.
aa: After Mbeya on November 1st, what’s next on the network expansion plan? Will it be mostly international, given the limited domestic market in Tanzania?
EW: Mbeya is an important domestic destination for us, given its location in the SW of the country, close to the border, as it gives us access to a catchment that spreads into Malawi and Zambia also. Our services will be going into the new Songwe airport at Mbeya, which has been upgraded to allow it to handle jet airplanes operating to international standards. We have worked hard with Tanzanian authorities and its (CAA) to get the right facilities in place. While we have not been on the route [Dar es Salaam to Johannesburg] the incumbents have been charging crazy prices. High prices restrict the market size. This is the perfect situation for the low cost carrier (LCC) model to come into the market. On that basis, I could also envisage routes from Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar to Johannesburg. However, Dar es Salaam will remain the focal point for our international expansion: — destinations like Lusaka, Harare, Maputo, Lilongwe, Entebbe, Juba, Nairobi, and Mombasa are all in our sights.
aa: Are there any other bases in other African nations planned? Ghana and Angola had been mooted in the past?
EW: This type of expansion fits exactly into our business model. Just as you have seen easyJet (EZY), Ryanair (RYR) and now Norwegian (NWG) do in Europe, we intend creating a pan-African network. In sub-Saharan Africa, there are 48 countries, all jealously guarding their bilateral route rights and in which we could potentially create a series of fastjet (FSJ)-branded airlines. In countries like South Africa, Kenya, Angola and Ghana, Fastjet (FSJ) would operate with each country’s regulatory compliance and in effect be a local airline. In many cases, due to rules on foreign ownership of airlines, this will of course involve us having <100% stake in these daughter carriers. However, all of these airlines would use the same Fastjet (FSJ) brand, be distributed in the same way and operate with identical safety management systems. So far as the (FSJ) customer is concerned, they will have same levels of customer service and operational safety across the board. In terms of where 1st, (FSJ) South Africa will be on-line sometime next year.
aa: Are there any plans to operate in the more liberal North Africa region as a way of extending the brand?
EW: I am sure that at some point in the future, our network will touch North Africa. For example, if we were operating from French-speaking nations like Senegal, it may make sense to link to French-speaking nations in North Africa.
aa: Are the bilateral issues faced in Africa, a challenge which can be overcome or a choke-hold on free development of air services?
EW: You’re right, they do slow things down, but if I didn’t think we could achieve our business objectives of having a pan-African low-cost carrier (LCC), then I would not be here talking to you. It’s no different to when I was at (go) and we had to fight to gain access onto the London - Prague market (that was in 1999, so not that long ago). Then we were fighting to get designation against the likes of national flag carriers, (BAB) and Czech Airlines (CSA). In Africa, we’re also fighting to get designations against, in the main, national flag carriers.
aa: What happened with the 1time (1TA) acquisition?
EW: This was purely an opportunistic situation which would have given us rapid access to the South African market, based around a business rescue of 1time (1TA). We tried to find a solution to make it work, but in the end, the numbers just didn’t stack up. So now we will have to find ways of starting up on our own in this important market. We know it will be a tough fight against incumbents, when we do.
aa: Would you say that low-cost is being embraced in the same way in Africa as it is on other continents: – i.e. a real stimulant for passenger growth?
EW: Absolutely! Around 38% of our passengers are 1st-time flyers. The booking profile is also slowly changing to 1 found in more mature low-cost markets. When we started, the booking window was a matter of minutes or hours, with passengers turning up at the airport to get on a plane if it was there. This type of passenger activity has a tendency to drive a very flat pricing structure. As we sit here today, the average booking is received 17 to 18 days in advance. We are now getting a fair amount of bookings 2 to 3 months in advance as well. The changing profile is allowing us to better revenue manage than we were able to at the beginning. We have been overwhelmed by the response we’ve received.
aa: What percentage of your sales are direct? Do you foresee significant ancillary revenue streams?
EW: Around 80% are direct, with the remainder coming through local travel agents. As with most (LCC)s, we don’t pay any commissions, but we allow the agents to add a service charge. Ancillary revenues, mainly bags and change fees, currently contribute around 7% of our average $81 per passenger income. People told us that you will never get passengers to pay for their bags. But they do. In the future, we expect to introduce charges for some types of allocated seating, which will see this sector of our revenues grow further.
aa: We have heard that the UK government is likely to subsidize a (PSO) route from St Helena to Cape Town and possibly Ascension Island, when the airport opens in 2016. Do you fancy that?
EW: I didn’t know about that, but I doubt a Tanzanian airline would qualify!
KYLE HAYWOOD, (CEO) SOUTH AFRICAN OPERATIONS, EX-(AUN)/(BAB)/(EHD)/(ABZ)/(GUL) (2013-04).
Kyle has >25 years of airline experience including Area Manager roles for British Airways (BAB) in the UK, South Africa, the Middle East, South America, and mainland Europe. He also prepared Etihad (EHD)’s launch in South Africa in 2005 before returning to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as Commercial Director for Air Arabia (ABZ) and moving on to become Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) at Gulf Air (GUL). Most recently he was (CEO) of Air Uganda (AUN).
MICHAEL MULLER, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER (CFO) (2017-04).
Michael previously worked in management accounting for South African Airways (SAA) and its catering subsidiary Air Chefs, but has been with fastjet (FSJ) since November 2016, working out of the company’s Johannesburg offices.
MS LISA MITCHELL , CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER, RESGNED 2017-04).
(ANGUS SAUNDERS, WAS EARLIER CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER (CFO)?).
RICHARD BODIN, CHIEF COMMERCIAL OFFICER (CCO), ALSO CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER (COO) ON A "TEMPORARY BASIS" IN 2016-03.
ED LANCA, DIRECTOR FLIGHT OPERATIONS.
CAPTAIN JOE MPARURI, CHIEF PILOT.
MS KRISTA BATES, DIRECTOR & GROUP GENERAL COUNSEL (2014-06).
JIMMY KIBATI, GENERAL MANAGER EAST AFRICA.
MS JEAN UKU, COMMERCIAL MANAGER TANZANIA.