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African Aviation

East Africa's first low-cost carrier scheduled to take flight

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Africa  Aug 19, 2008

KAMPALA, Uganda (eTN) - Information was received that the region’s first true low-cost airline, Fly540, will be starting operations from Uganda by the end of next month, after obtaining its Air Operator Certificate from the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The airline was licensed at the last CAA public hearing earlier in the year. The news created excitement among travel agents and travelers, as a range of additional destinations may be offered for them from Entebbe, besides the twice-daily service already in place between Entebbe and Nairobi.

Already there is intense speculation on which routes they will be flying from Entebbe in anticipation of taking advantage of its generally much lower fares, while the charges of other airlines remain often out of reach for a whole new market segment Fly540 is targeting.

The airline is expected to register at least two ATR42 planes in Uganda and is presently putting final touches on its operations set up at the airport. The Fly540 downtown sales and reservations office is strategically located opposite the main entrance of “Garden City,” currently Kampala’s most prestigious shopping, entertainment and hospitality centre, which makes access for would be travelers easy.

The airline also offers a state of the art booking engine via their website to allow for direct web accessed bookings.

Since commencing operations to Entebbe earlier in the year the airline has already transported over 7,000 passengers on the route with marked load increases in the more recent past, thought to be at the primary expense of Air Uganda, which was forced to suspend its morning flight to Nairobi recently, by its own admission due to lack of sufficient load factors and the high operational cost of their aged MD87 aircraft.

All indicators now are that Fly540 is indeed not only here to stay, but bound to expand and bringing new choices and destinations to Uganda. The next planned new operations, after Kenya and Uganda, are likely to take off in Tanzania and Angola before moving to other parts of Western Africa, where Lonrho Africa also has extensive business interests. Final confirmation is also expected soon about a partnership agreement with Rwandair, which would further boost Fly540’s standing in the region.

East Africa's first low-cost carrier scheduled to take flight
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