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By Brian Yatich
Low-cost airline fastjet finally made its much awaited maiden flight from Nairobi to Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro route Monday, in a move set to upset other carriers plying the same route.
fastjet Tanzania began operating a daily flight yesterday between Dar es Salaam and Nairobi and between Kilimanjaro and Nairobi, with further flights between Zanzibar and Nairobi and Dar es Salaam and Mombasa also expected to be added to the network later this year.
The carrier’s airfares and affordable tickets are expected to give fastjet a competitive edge over its rivals.
One way fares ranges from between $50 (Sh5, 100) to $80 (Sh8, 160) on the two new routes, cheaper compared to what other airlines like Kenya Airways price on the same route. Fares exclude government taxes.
A fare comparison shows Kenya Airways prices today (departure on January12) are about Sh 16,244 on Nairobi- Dar route while Precision Air which is 41 percent owned by KQ is charging Sh 18,427 non-stop one way on the similar route.
Fastjet’s relatively low-priced tickets are expected trigger fierce competition in the industry which will in the long run force other airlines like Rwandair, KQ and Precision among others operating direct flights between the two cities to review their prices for fear of losing its customers to the rival airline.
“The travelling public pay prohibitively high fares for regional air travel, as the lack of competition on many routes keeps prices artificially high, making air travel beyond the reach of most,” said Jimmy Kibati, fastjet General Manager for East Africa during the launch.
Return flights from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to Dar es Salaam’s Julius Nyerere International Airport and Kilimanjaro International Airport will initially operate daily using fastjet’s modern Airbus A319 jet aircraft with a seating capacity of 156 passengers.
The airline which has pan-African network already operates internationally between Dar es Salaam and Johannesburg in, Lusaka in Zambia, Entebbe in Uganda, Harare in Zimbabwe and Lilongwe in Malawi as well as Kilimanjaro to Entebbe route and domestic flights.
The maiden flight comes in the wake of the anticipated approval of fastjet Kenya, a separate company within the fastjet group to set up in the country.
The company announced in October last year that it had been granted an air service licence (ASL) by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA), with the granting of the ASL clearing the way for fastjet Kenya to begin the application process for an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) which, upon completed will allow the airline to operate domestic flights locally.
Editing By Steve Umidha