Budget airline, fastjet, is set to commence daily flights between Harare and Bulawayo beginning July 20, in tandem with a Government decision to allow local aviation firms to also ply domestic routes. Previously, domestic routes were a preserve for national airline, Air Zimbabwe.
But operational challenges dogging the national flag carrier and Government’s general desire to open up the skies for local aviation firms including FlyAfrica Zimbabwe, is set to see fastjet taking up the Harare-Bulawayo route.
Ticket sales are already underway, with a special launch fare starting at $59 including taxes.
fastjet chief executive Nico Bezuidenhout yesterday said: “fastjet has been pursuing this route designation for several years.
“We are delighted to see that positive changes in the Zimbabwean environment made this development possible, enabling low-fare connectivity between more domestic destinations.”
fastjet, which celebrates three years of operations in Zimbabwe in October, presently flies between Harare and Johannesburg four times daily.
It also plies the Harare-Victoria Falls route twice daily and up to three times a week between Victoria Falls and Johannesburg.
Mr Bezuidenhout said they have invested “substantially” in the market with positive outcomes.
“While we are launching with a single frequency at present, fastjet intends to further grow the route following further consultation with stakeholders and ultimately to introduce additional aircraft to facilitate growth,” he said.
Mr Bezuidenhout believes that fastjet’s entry into Bulawayo would further stimulate economic activity and growth in the second capital, which is a strategic economic hub that services nearby mining, industrial and agricultural activity.
A 2017 International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) study shows that aviation creates substantial up and downstream economic benefits in a country.
The air transport industry employs around 381 000 people in Africa and contributes more than $9 billion to the continent’s Gross Domestic Product.
The report says the catalytic impact of aviation stretches this contribution to around 6,8 million jobs and $72,5 billion towards GDP and on a country and city scale, airlines benefit local tourism, supply chain procurement and on average, the market entry of a carrier on any new route stimulates job creation of between 100 and 200 opportunities across various sectors.
The coming on board of the Harare-Bulawayo route implies fastjet now has four local destinations with more than 100 weekly flights, making it leading carrier in Zimbabwe.
Mr Bezuidenhout said due to their affordable fares and multiple daily frequencies for business travellers, together with the firm’s commitment to promoting local and inbound tourism, fastjet has become the airline of choice.
“We look forward to continued engagement with all stakeholders in Zimbabwe to realise additional frequencies on the route as well as the development of new destinations.”
fastjet says it has an on-time performance of 90 performance. The Herald