Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
LOW-COST airline, Fastjet Zimbabwe, has introduced a third Embraer ERJ145 aircraft into commercial service in the country.
The 50-seater aircraft that was introduced on the Harare-Bulawayo route touched down at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport in Bulawayo last Friday with the airline’s board and management, officials from Government, hospitality and aviation sectors as well as passengers on board.
Fastjet board chair Advocate Farai Mutamangira said they were optimistic the introduction of the new aircraft would make huge business impact despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are seeing the outlook beyond the pandemic. We are also motivated by Government’s response to the outbreak of the pandemic. Look at the rate at which we have accelerated the vaccination of our population, the Government has done its part and as private sector we need to complement that by doing our part,” he said in an interview.
The additional aircraft, Embraer ERJ145, offers capabilities that are compatible with the Zimbabwean and South African regional market needs including a comfortable cabin environment, said the company.
“Fleet renewals and additions are things that airlines do on a constant basis especially when the base dictates that there is a boom, so we are very happy to be adding this new baby to the fleet and we think that it’s going to add more convenience and comfort and more connectivity to the various destinations within the country as well as in the region,” said Adv Mutamangira.
He said the company was seeing beyond the pandemic and was therefore optimistic.
Fastjet connects three major cities in Zimbabwe by flying between Harare, Victoria Falls and Bulawayo as well as linking these destinations with Johannesburg. Going forward, the airline plans to service more routes in the region.
“It’s a lot of work to service the route networks that are available in the region, it cost money to service new routes. We continue to look at possibilities in terms of demand,” said Adv Mutamangira.
He said the company was engaging others in the industry including Air Zimbabwe so that they work together.
Early this month, the airline announced the introduction of double daily flight between Bulawayo and Johannesburg. In May, Fastjet increased daily flight frequency between Victoria Falls and Johannesburg in South Africa in response to demand. Increased frequency is expected to help clients reduce the time spent while waiting at the airport through a flexible timetable.
In a separate interview, Airports Company of Zimbabwe board chairman Mr Dave Popatlal commended Fastjet for introducing a new aircraft in the country saying this shows the level of confidence they have in the economy.
“This initiative will ignite other players in our flying fraternity and citizens especially those from industry and commerce should be happy.
They have a possibility of also getting international connecting flights from Harare and also from Victoria Falls. Victoria Falls is becoming a hub of international traveling with companies like Lufthansa now flying directly,” he said.
Fastjet has reaffirmed commitment to offering reliable flight connections across regional network and contributing towards the recovery and renewal of leisure and corporate tourism mainly in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the continent at large.
Director for policy planning in the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development Mr Allowance Sango said the Government was proud of achievements demonstrated by Fastjet.
“We have seen now they are registering their fourth aircraft in Zimbabwe and as Government we continue to provide the relevant infrastructural support,” he said.
“We are aware that movement and connectivity is not about planning within a confined sector, we look at inter-mode transportation, road, rail, air as well as inland waters.”
Fastjet is a multi-award-winning African value airline that began flight operations in 2012. Since commencing operations Fastjet has flown over 3,5 million passengers. — @okazunga