President Jacob Zuma's son Edward has given his backing to a proposed new budget airline. (Picture: AFP)
Cape Town - London-based airline group FastJet has abandoned its plans to resuscitate liquidated low-cost airline 1time and is now pursuing a new business venture in South Africa, backed by President Jacob Zuma’s son Edward.
Bloomberg reported that FastJet wants to become the first Pan-African discount airline, and said the airline plans to have its first flights in South Africa in May.
“FastJet will start selling tickets in a few weeks for the first flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg on May 31, it said today in a statement.
"A dedicated investment vehicle known as Blockbuster will be 75% owned by local people including Edward Zuma, son of the South African president, it said,” Bloomberg reported.
London-based FastJet is already active in East Africa, in particular in Tanzania, and is looking to expand beyond that country where it commenced services in November 2012. This is part of the group's plans to establish a low-cost African network using a fleet of Airbus SAS A319 planes.
The group told Bloomberg its efforts to build a South African service using the insolvent local carrier 1time has now been dropped. This may be in part to the legal issues that would have been in the way.
The new venture will now use a licence held by Federal Airlines to commence flights, after Blockbuster struck a commercial arrangement with the local company. Federal Airlines is a charter company operating from OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg.
Blockbuster’s involvement will also ensure compliance with South Africa’s airline ownership laws, according to the statement. The carrier initially plans to establish twice-daily flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town.
It will be competing with South African Airways and Comair/Kulula, which have been dominating the local market since the demise of 1time in 2012.
The Cape Town- Johannesburg route is part of the golden triangle, and one of the busiest in the country.
*Follow James-Brent Styan on Twitter at @jamesstyan.
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