Cape Town - Low cost airline fastjet is in discussions with the Zambian government to move the airline's base to Lusaka.
The airline stated in a press release the new operation, whilst being distributed and marketed as a part of the pan-African fastjet network, would be a Zambian registered company in which fastjet plc will have a substantial stake.
"The business and political environment in Zambia is very progressive and fastjet's discussions to date with the Zambian government, Tourist Board and other stakeholders have been very positive, " Ed Winter, fastjet’s Chief Executive Officer said.The Company believes the establishment of its operation would benefit the country and its people through the expansion of trade and tourism links, as well increase safety and reliability improvements to the Zambian aviation industry.
The airline anticipates its Air Services Licence and Air Operator Certificate applications would take up to six-months to complete but in the interim the airline would service the market via it recently announced second international route, Lusaka – Dar es Salaam, beginning 1 February.
While landlocked, Zambia has borders with Tanzania, Malawi, DRC, Namibia, Botswana, Angola and Zimbabwe and has significant regional trade links with its neighbours.
South Africa is a major trading partner and provider of technical expertise. Zambia is a significant producer of copper with exports to China. The economy is growing substantially with average annual real GDP growth in excess of 6% since 2005.
fastjet confirmed it would like to service a number of key domestic routes through its low-cost model, specifically between Lusaka, Ndola and Livingstone.
"Ndola, on the DRC border and in the centre of the copper belt, is a key hub which is currently poorly served," said Winter.
"On many routes, Zambian people currently have to undertake long and dangerous road journeys. Typical is the route from Lusaka to Dar es Salaam, which will be served by fastjet Tanzania from 1st February 2014, where thousands of people per day undertake the 24 hour road journey.
"Regional international routes are all provided by non-Zambian airlines, with the key route from Lusaka to Johannesburg being served with seven flights per day by South Africa Airways and its associates."fastjet said it was confident that its market-stimulating pricing model will grow traffic on these routes substantially.