Governments run a big part of the show with the Gulf carriers and they're doing just fine. FastJet's problem lies in the fact that its ambitions are too far ahead of the smaller Sub-Saharan African governments who simply aren't ready for mass tourism's arrival.
It's good to see Fastjet thriving and carving out new markets where others have fallen short.
Fastjet is bringing the low cost carrier model to Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa. It's been tough-going so far, but this venture is being keenly watched to see if it can generate enough demand to be successful.
In the weeks ahead Fastjet will need to figure out how to match its ambitions with reality if it wants to keep up the enthusiasm others have for the low-cost carrier's prospects.
Sometimes travel companies, including airlines, have to make hard choices, and FastJet sees longer-haul flights across Africa as its first priority. The plan is to get to domestic South Africa flights at a later juncture.
There’s no question that African aviation is poised for growth, but it’s yet to be determined whether homegrown carriers can overcome high operating costs and weak infrastructure to reach sustainable growth.
Despite early setbacks in South Africa, FastJet is adapting quickly to ensure it continues the expansion throughout Africa that it promised when it launched last fall.
Africa is full of near-bankrupt and poorly managed state airlines, making acquisitions a quick and cost efficient way for upstarts like FastJet to build its fleet and expand routes early on.
FastJet has the smarts of easyJet players behind the scenes, but it will need to watch out for the machinations of its East African competitors who enjoy higher fares and less-reliable service.
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.