Fastjet confident of pan-African goal

Fastjet confident of pan-African goal

2015-03-13 16:35

Cape Town - Privatisation of the airline industry means a company can be efficient and efficient companies pay tax and provide secure employment, Ed Winter, CEO of budget airline fastjet, told Fin24 on Friday.

Fastjet is listed in London and was started in Tanzania in 2012.

"I am pro competition as it drives efficiency. South African Airways (SAA) is a mess in my view, because it has no competitor. It is in no one's interest if a company is run in a way that makes it not profitable," said Winter.

"We face regulatory challenges and protectionism in the African aviation industry. Clearly the SA government cannot let SAA fold, but if the demand is there, private enterprises will step in. It cannot continue to bail out SAA."

He pointed out that Africa represents 15% of the world's population, but only 3% of the global aviation industry.

"With visible increased consumerism and growth in gross domestic product (GDP) we saw a huge opportunity in African aviation. Everywhere else in the world one finds a decent aviation sector which includes a low cost option," he said.

"We have grown steadily and are now more than twice the size of other airlines in Tanzania, where we operate on three domestic routes. We also fly to Johannesburg, Lusaka, Harare and Entebbe and have transported 1.1 million people so far."

READ: Fastjet hopes to secure funding in 2015

First time flyers

A survey showed 38% of fastjet's passengers are first time flyers.

"Aviation enables trade and economic growth. Tanzania welcomed us and we changed aviation in that country. Our vision is to be the most successful pan-African airline, but until 2018 we will focus on growing in Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. There are 210 million people in total in those six countries," said Winter.

"We have now built a foundation in Tanzania, making good progress in Zambia and are busy with talks in Zimbabwe. Every day there are about 100 buses going between Harare and Johannesburg and there are long delays at the border."

Winter has absolute confidence that fastjet's approach can work and said the company is looking into getting local investors involved.

"It is about democratising air travel and bringing the social benefits to those people, who up to now have not been able to be part of it," he said.

ALSO READ: Fastjet shows strong growth in passenger numbers