New African LFA FastJet chooses Airbus A319

Rubicon, the company behind the new African low-fare airline (LFA), FastJet, has selected the Airbus A319 aircraft for its fleet, with the first aircraft expected to carry passengers by October this year.

FastJet will operate under a brand licence agreement with easyGroup Holdings and Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder of easyJet.

Commenting on the announcement, Rubicon chief executive Ed Winter, remarked, “The decision to launch FastJet with the Airbus A319 enables us to expand rapidly with each aircraft potentially carrying around 250,000 passengers a year. Rubicon expects passenger numbers to double from current levels within six months of the introduction of the A319 fleet.

“We plan to add at least five leased Airbus A319 aircraft to the fleet within six months of launch and up to 15 within a year,” added Winter.

John Leahy, Airbus chief operating officer–customers, commented, “We are delighted that FastJet has chosen the A319 as the basis for its fleet. FastJet will open up low-cost travel to the African market, and the Airbus A319 will bring new levels of comfort to air passengers across Africa. It is a great combination.”

The first aircraft will be leased from Nomura Babcock Brown (BBAM Aircraft Management), and is scheduled for delivery in September/October. Negotiations on further aircraft deliveries later in the year are under way.

Rubicon announced on 29 June the successful completion of its deal with Lonrho Aviation and its airline Fly540, providing the merged group with existing aviation platforms in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Angola. Lonrho owns 74.9% of the London-listed aviation business and Haji-Ioannou’s easyGroup will own 5%.

David Lenigas, executive chairman of Rubicon and of Lonrho, remarked, “FastJet has already stated its intent to raise the bar on air safety in Africa by operating its aircraft under the same strict rules that apply to European carriers. To this end, we expect to sign an agreement with a major European MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) company for maintenance of the A319 fleet in the coming months.

“Our management team has been actively engaged in detailed discussions with a number of Governments to lobby for incentives and reduced passenger taxes, factors that will affect our final decision on where to deploy the first A319s,” Lenigas reported.

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