Fastjet has a distance to go from flying between two Tanzanian cities to becoming a pan-African airline, but could become a leader with little competition if service proves to be reliable and safe from the start.
The inaugural flight of fastjet, the new African low-cost airline backed by the easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, is set to take off later this week.
Flight FN0161 from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza in north-western Tanzania will depart at 6am local time on Thursday November 30, marking a new era in air travel in Africa.
Later that day, another flight will take off from Tanzania’s largest city to Kilimanjaro International Airport on the country’s northern border. The neighbouring Kilimanjaro National Park is a major draw for tourists.
The airline will have a limited flight network to begin with, flying to only those two destinations, both within Tanzania. Mwanza lies on the border of Lake Victoria, within easy striking distance of the Serengeti National Park.
Its fleet will initially consist of three Airbus A319s, all based in Dar es Salaam, while the airline’s team will include 35 pilots, 65 cabin crew as well as seven maintenance specialist.
However, the company describes its expansion plans as “ambitious”, saying they wish “to create Africa’s first pan-continental airline”. Possible future bases include the Kenyan capital Nairobi, as well as Ghana and Angola.
One-way prices to both Mwanza and Kilimanjaro start from 32,000 Tanzanian shilling (£12.50), not including government taxes.
Sir Stelios started easyJet in 1995 at the age of 28, and is still the largest single share-holder of the airline, although he has taken a step back from its day-to-day running.