Skift Take

Fastjet optimistic start is refreshing news from a continent where two of the strongest countries for aviation -- South Africa and Nigeria -- are struggling.

FastJet Plc, aiming to become the first pan-African discount airline, hired three executives with backgrounds at established low-cost carriers including European No. 1 Ryanair Holdings Plc ahead of its first flight next month.

Rob Bishton joins as operations director from U.K.-based EasyJet Plc, Harun Cordan, formerly of Ireland’s Ryanair, was appointed chief pilot, and Kyle Haywood, who has worked at Air Arabia PJSC, the Middle East’s biggest discount carrier, will be general manager for Africa, London-based FastJet said today.

“Between them they bring over 50 years of operational experience from across the sector and they are important strategic hires for us ahead of our launch,” Chief Executive Officer Ed Winter said in a statement. Haywood is also a former CEO at Air Uganda and worked at British Airways and Gulf Air.

FastJet has signed operating leases on two Airbus SAS A319 planes from Volito Aviation starting next month, taking the fleet to three, Winter said, while deals have been struck with Swissport International Ltd. to provide ground-handling services and with Sabena Technics to meet engineering requirements.

The agreement with Swissport is important in establishing FastJet as a carrier operating to international standards as it makes reliability part of its pitch in a market where on-time performance generally lags behind global norms, Winter said.

Backed by EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, FastJet plans to establish bases in Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana and Angola with licenses held by majority owner Lonrho Plc, an oil, mining and agricultural group active in Africa for 100 years.

The carrier will deploy its first plane in Dar es Salaam, capital of Tanzania, from where it plans to commence operations with services to Nairobi. The Tanzanian market can probably support five aircraft and Kenya a further 10, Winter said.

Editor: Andrew Noel. To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Jasper in London at [email protected]. To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at [email protected].

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Tags: easyjet, fastjet, ryanair

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