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EasyJet, Africa’s 1st Low-Cost Airline Begins Flying This Week

The launch of Africa’s first low-cost airline promises to open the continent’s skies to first-time fliers and cut costs for tourists currently hit with some of the world’s most expensive air tickets.

Fastjet, part-owned by easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, will take its first scheduled flight in Tanzania this week and plans to expand first across East Africa and then to Ghana and Angola.

If the airline sticks to these plans, British tourists could soon combine safaris in Kenya with gorilla treks in Uganda and time on Zanzibar’s beaches in a two-week trip without excessive flight costs.

Such multi-country holidays in Africa have traditionally been restricted to backpackers with time to take cheap transport.

It is the first time the “book early, pay less” model has come to most of Sub-Saharan Africa. Passengers used to full-service airlines may be surprised at charges for checked-in bags or onboard drinks and snacks. But in return for the lack of frills, the firm’s British management promise base fares for hour-long flights from as little £13 before taxes.

“This is something that can revolutionise my work,” said Godfrey Hicheka, a charity director in Tanzania, who regularly travels between Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital, and Kilimanjaro in the north, to visit field projects.

Often he cannot justify the £225 cost for the 50-minute each-way flight. On fastjet, the return ticket will be as low as £33, including taxes.

“That is cheaper than taking the bus, and it means I can go for a meeting in the morning and be back in Dar by evening – it’s unbelievable,” he said.

Long-distance road travel is often the only option for most Africans, even those in the booming middle class with salaried jobs.

Mr Hicheka’s 400-mile journey from Dar es Salaam to Kilimanjaro would take 11 hours on a cramped coach on roads with an awful reputation for accidents. Unlike in India or South-East Asia, there are few passenger trains in Africa.

“African economies are among the fastest growing in the world, and a lot of that growth is happening in the middle classes,” said Ed Winter, fastjet’s CEO…

Read more: Business Insider

 

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