December 05, 2012
African startup Fastjet is in negotiations to take control of South African low-cost carrier 1time, which declared bankruptcy last month.
Fastjet says it wants to restart 1time operations before the Christmas travel season, although cautions that talks with the South African carrier’s liquidator, management and directors have not concluded.
1time was one of several carriers operating on domestic routes in South Africa, but last month abruptly ceased operations, stranding several thousands of passengers. The carrier’s financial performance had been deteriorating for some time, and it did not have the resources to replace its aging and inefficient fleet of MD-80 aircraft.
Fastjet, which claims to be the first pan-African low-cost carrier, launched its own flight operations last week with two domestic routes in Tanzania. Because Fastjet is building on the remnants of regional operator Fly540, it has access to air operator’s certificates in Angola, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania, and has made no secret of its intent to operate beyond these four markets, particularly South Africa, which is the continent’s most developed air transport market.
Fastjet is backed by African conglomerate Lonrho and Easy Group and is managed by Ed Winter, who previously worked as EasyJet’s chief operating officer and has hired several former EasyJet executives to launch the African startup.
Winter says that 1time flights initially would be operated with the South African carrier’s MD-80s, but eventually would be re-fleeted with Airbus A319s, the aircraft used by Fastjet.
The 1time brand also would be replaced with Fastjet’s.
“The acquisition of 1time would be a complementary strategic fit for Fastjet’s growth into a pan-African low-cost carrier, and the synergies with Fastjet would potentially increase the number of available route networks from South Africa into the rest of Africa,” Winter says.