FASTJET Zimbabwe on Monday announced that its first international routes will be from Harare and Victoria Falls to Johannesburg, South Africa with effect from February 1.
The launch of these routes is as a result of fastjet Zimbabwe receiving clearance from the Zimbabwean and South African governments to operate flights between the two countries.
Return flights from Harare International Airport and Victoria Falls International Airport to Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport will operate using fastjet’s modern Airbus A319 jet aircraft with seating for up to 144 passengers.
“The Harare/Johannesburg route will commence on 1st February 2016 and operate daily with an additional daily flight expected to be quickly added by fastjet as consumer awareness and demand increases for its affordable, safe, quick and on-time service,” the company said.
Flights linking Victoria Falls to and from Johannesburg will initially be three times a week on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays, commencing February 3.
“Tickets for flights will be on sale this week, with fastjet advising passengers to book early to take advantage of its lowest priced fares on both routes of US$80 one-way. This excludes government and airport taxes (US$50 departing Zimbabwe or US$35 departing South Africa), said fastjet.
The initial daily flights will depart from Harare at 06h15 and land in Johannesburg at 07h55, with a flight time of 1 hour 40 minutes. The return flight from Johannesburg to Harare departs at 08h40, landing at 10h15 (all local times).
Finalised slots and timetables for the flights linking Victoria Falls and Johannesburg are still to be confirmed by the respective airports.
The South African flights from Harare and Victoria Falls mark the first international flights for fastjet Zimbabwe with the airline presently flying domestically between Harare – Victoria Falls.
fastjet also announced that it expects fastjet Zimbabwe to receive approval for additional international flights to commence from Zimbabwe to further East and Southern Africa markets within the first quarter of 2016.
Combined with the South African flights announced today, these routes will create a comprehensive fastjet Zimbabwe network of international destinations to complement its domestic routes.
“When fastjet Zimbabwe’s first flight took off just 12 weeks ago to Victoria Falls from Harare, we promised that we would make air travel more accessible than ever before, and today’s announcement is a further significant step in fulfilling that promise” said Ed Lanca, Director of Flight Operations at fastjet Zimbabwe.
Supporting this statement is recent research undertaken by the fastjet, showing that up to 40 percent of passengers on all routes were first time flyers able to afford air travel for the first time, thanks to fastjet’s low fares.
“The only alternative to flying is to undertake long and uncomfortable journeys by road, which can take up to 20 hours from Harare to Johannesburg. As has been the case with other routes that we have launched, we expect many of our passengers to be first time flyers who, because of prohibitively high fares, cannot afford to travel by air,” Lanca said.
“Affordable air travel is key to the growth of Zimbabwean economy, and fastjet has been able to announce these new routes by working closely with the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development and the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe, who understand and value the positive impact that low-cost air travel can have on the lives of our citizens and the general economy,” he said.
Over the course of the next three years, fastjet Zimbabwe expects to invest in the region of US$15 million and employ approximately 200 people directly, with hundreds more employed in secondary services such as fuel, catering, and cleaning supporting the airline.
“Making it easier for more entrepreneurs, traders, tourists and other visitors to travel between Zimbabwe and South Africa will strengthen the countries’ relationship, boost tourism and business sectors, create jobs and contribute significantly to both countries’ economic growth,” Lanca said.
Available for purchase on these routes will be fastjet’s luggage upgrade option, ‘Freighty’, that allows passengers to transport up to 80kg of checked in bags. The Freighty luggage option in particular is expected to be popular with traders flying with fastjet to purchase wholesale produce in Johannesburg to transport back to their home markets to sell.
Follow us on Twitter on @FingazLive and on Facebook – The Financial Gazette