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South African aviation authorities yield to growing Zimbabwean pressure and grant Fastjet rights

Prof. Wolfgang H. Thome, Ph.D., eTN Africa Correspondent  Jan 18, 2016

Effective February 1, Fastjet Zimbabwe will launch daily flights from Harare to Johannesburg, finally filling the gap which was left when in late October rival LCC FlyAfrica lost their AOC over what the High Court in the capital Harare later described as safety concerns, among a range of other reasons.

Fastjet has been flying on the route from Harare to Victoria Falls three times a week since launching operations last year and been standing by, after receiving designation status from the Zimbabwean aviation authorities, to also get landing rights from the South African regulators. This process, similar to their launch of Johannesburg flights from Tanzania at the time, however too longer than anticipated and once again does the South African aviation establishment have to fend off accusations of being protective of their own airlines and desperately trying to keep foreign competition out of their skies. Zimbabwe however apparently would have nothing of it in the end and demanded that reciprocity arrangements be implemented, or else, or so it is understood from a reliable source in Harare [not associated with Fastjet for that matter].

Also effective 03rd of February will Fastjet then extend their three times a week service from Harare to Victoria Falls on to Johannesburg, again offering flights at the lowest fares in the market for South Africans wanting to visit the falls and spend time either in Victoria Falls or across the river in Livingstone. These flights will initially operate every Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, perfect for weekend package tours.

Fares for both routes were on the lowest level set at 80 US Dollars, one way plus taxes, which notably add a further 85 US Dollars on the ticket cost, 50 of which go into the pockets of the South African airport operator.

Additional regional routes are expected to be announced within weeks, adding further connectivity by Fastjet out of Harare to destinations across Southern Africa and towards that end is a second Airbus A319 expected to be registered in Zimbabwe in due course.

Said Richard Bodin, CCO of Fastjet, when making the announcement a short while ago: ‘When Fastjet Zimbabwe’s first flight took off just 12 weeks ago, we promised that we would make air travel more accessible than ever before, and today’s announcement is a further significant step in fulfilling that promise. The only alternative to flying is to undertake long and uncomfortable journeys by road, which can take up to 20 hours from Harare to Johannesburg. As has been the case with other routes that we have launched, we expect many of our passengers to be first time flyers who, because of prohibitively high fares, cannot afford to travel by air. Making it easier for more entrepreneurs, traders, tourists and other visitors to travel between Zimbabwe and South Africa will strengthen the countries’ relationship, boost tourism and business sectors, create jobs and contribute significantly to both countries’ economic growth’.

South African aviation authorities yield to growing Zimbabwean pressure and grant Fastjet rights

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