As fastjet flies in Zimbabwe, airline says infrastructure, legislation and liberalisation are holding it back
It was revealed at last month’s World Routes Strategy Summit that African low-cost carrier, fastjet was only a matter of weeks away from securing the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) for its new Zimbabwe operation. Now, as this approval is received from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ), we highlight some of the issues impacting the carrier’s development across Africa, as highlighted by its Chief Commerical Officer, Richard Bodin during the forum.
The award of the AOC is the final stage in the regulatory preparation for the launch of fastjet Zimbabwe, the airline’s second business unit in Africa alongside its Tanzanian operation – it will be followed by a Zambia business later this year and more are planned for 2016.
The AOC designates fastjet Zimbabwe Limited as a Zimbabwean airline licenced to operate both domestic and international routes within and from Zimbabwe. Having obtained its Air Service Licence in March 2015, the government will now designate fastjet Zimbabwe as a Zimbabwean airline on international routes to a number of East and Southern African countries.
fastjet Zimbabwe plans to expand rapidly, creating a comprehensive network of domestic and regional destinations and has already opened reservations for its debut route linking Harare to Victoria Falls, initially on a three times weekly basis from October 28, 2015.
"Adding a second fastjet airline to our network is an incredibly significant milestone on our path to becoming the most successful pan African low cost airline. We recognised the real potential in Zimbabwe some time ago and have been working hard together with the relevant authorities towards this momentous day,” said Ed Winter, Chief Executive Officer, fastjet.
Zimbabwe, like its neighbour Zambia are good examples of nation’s understanding the value of a more liberal aviation sector and the benefits of enhanced connectivity. “Some have welcomed us with open arms and have approached us rather than us approaching them. There are other destinations where we are very keen to fly who are treating us very differently, perhaps to protect their existing carriers or who don’t necessarily see the benefit of allowing fastjet to fly,” explained Richard Bodin, Chief Commercial Officer, fastjet during World Routes.
According to Bodin these destinations are using “tactics” to delay the inevitable approval of the legislative processes for approval of flights under bilateral air service agreements. “We will get there. It’s just a question of bringing people along on the journey with us,” he added.
For Bodin, the lack of liberalisation across Africa is one of three main issues that are impacting its development of a pan-African route network: the others are infrastructure problems at airports across the Continent and regulation that requires separate business units, effectively standalone airlines in each country it wishes to establish a base.
You can see what he had to say on this matter on this edited clip from his World Routes Strategy Summit panel discussion, below: