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Founder of British No-Frills Airline, easyJet, Plans to Launch African Equivalent

Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder of British no-frills airline easyJet, has moved closer to launching the first pan-African low cost carrier.

Haji-Ioannou said his company EasyGroup had joined forces with London-listed Rubicon Diversified Investments to acquire the aviation business of Africa-focused conglomerate Lonrho – subject to shareholder approval.

Under a reverse takeover deal, Lonrho would receive shares in Rubicon worth $85.7-million, raising its stake in the investment company to 73.7%.

EasyGroup would have a 5% stake in Rubicon. “This is another small but significant step in bringing the dream of low cost air travel to millions of people in Africa,” Haji-Ioannou said in a statement on Wednesday.

Rubicon said Fastjet would initially use the existing route network of Lonrho’s airline, operating as Fly540, in Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and Angola.

Fastjet chief executive Ed Winter said the new airline planned to launch with up to three jets by the end of the year.

EasyGroup’s move may yet be challenged by easyJet which for some time has had fractious relations with Haji-Ioannou, whose family is the biggest single shareholder in the British airline with a stake of about 38%.

Source: Mail & Guardian

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