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Dec 7, 2012 | General News

Fastjet To Buy South African Low-Cost Airline

By Ghanaian Chronicle

Fastjet Plc, the holding company for African airline Fly540, which operates from four bases in Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and Angola has announced that it is currently in negotiations with the management, directors and provisional liquidator of 1time, the South Africa low cost airline that ceased trading last month.

The negotiations, which have not yet concluded, and are subject to Board, parent company, and Regulatory approval, would allow Fastjet to purchase 1time Airline from its parent company, 1time Holdings.

The proposed transaction would involve Fastjet paying a nominal fee for the purchase of 1time Airline and reaching a settlement with the 1time creditors.

Ed Winter, Chief Executive Officer of Fastjet, said: 'If this transaction goes ahead and the timescales are extremely challenging – we would hope to get 1time flying again in time for the Christmas holiday period, when many customers have had their plans dashed by the cessation of 1time services and the subsequent huge increases in fares by competitors'.

According to him,  flights would initially be operated by a number of aircraft from the 1time fleet including McDonnell Douglas MD-82s, MD-83s and MD-87s, but restructuring plans would see a rapid re-fleeting with modern Airbus A319 aircraft.

Mr Winter added: 'The acquisition of 1time would be a complementary strategic fit for fastjet's growth into a pan African low cost carrier and the synergies with fastjet would potentially increase the number of available route networks from South Africa into the rest of Africa.  1time would be rebranded into the fastjet brand and sold through .'

'We are working with the South African authorities who, like us, are completely committed to helping the airline industry in South Africa develop for the benefit of all the people. Lower fares mean more economic growth, more jobs and more prosperity and we hope to keep many of the original 1time staff employed. With the co-operation of the shareholders of 1time we can build an airline that will provide a real choice to South Africans, based on the great reputation of 1time and the low cost experience of fastjet,' he indicated.

The Business Chronicle gathered that 1time is the second-largest low-cost private airline in South Africa by domestic market share. Based in Johannesburg, it operated 12 MD80 series jet aircraft and offered 33 flights a day across eight routes including South Africa to Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia. The airline carried 120,000 passengers a month before its operations were suspended in November 2012 after suffering financially from an old fashioned, inefficient and costly fleet.

Fastjet Plc which operates Fly540 currently has 10 aircraft serving around 25 domestic and regional destinations, carrying approximately 750,000 passengers per year with a strong emphasis on safety, security and reliability. fastjet plc is quoted on the London Stock Exchange's AIM market.


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