Speculation grows over involvement of EasyJet’s Stelios in African LCCs


(eTN) – Over the past weeks, speculation has been growing in Eastern Africa about a potential involvement by former EasyJet’s top executive, Stelios Iannou, said to consider joining hands with Lonrho to develop and implement a viable low-cost carrier (LCC) model for Africa, using jet aircraft to connect major cities on the continent.

While some efforts have been made in recent years to establish local LCCs, this concept has not taken root as was expected, and the financial strength of such Pan African airlines like Ethiopian or Kenya Airways, have successfully held against such competition by setting fare levels on key routes to, not just match their competitors but, actually offer lower fares, At the same time, they are using their frequent flyer programs to ensure brand loyalty through reward schemes the LCCs either do not have or do not use as effectively.

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Information obtained points to a possible signing of a deal next week, which could be held either in the UK or a select location in Africa, possibly Nairobi, as the East African aviation market could be the first to be targeted by a new airline set up.

Regional aviation stakeholders expressed surprise when contacted over this potential development and were swift to point to the cutthroat operating environment, which exists in the East African skies, claiming almost in unisonm “This is not Europe; any newcomer will find the going here very tough, very competitive, and very challenging.”

Adds this correspondent, in closing, this will indeed be the case, as past failures amply demonstrate, though Stelios and Lonrho combined will undoubtedly try to re-write aviation history and duplicate European successes in Africa, supported by deep pockets and a vision backed up by long experience.