Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou is a step closer to forming a new low-cost African carrier following the sale of Lonrho’s aviation business to British-based investment firm Rubicon.
Lonrho confirmed it had sold its aviation unit to Rubicon for $86 million in Rubicon shares. As part of the deal, Stelios’s easyGroup will own 5 percent of Rubicon, according to reports.
The planned Fastjet carrier will be developed on the existing Lonrho Aviation platform under the Fly540 brand.
In a statement Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou said: “This is another small but significant step in bringing the dream of low cost air travel to millions of people in Africa – the aviation industry’s last frontier.
“Past experience shows by halving fares, a successful low-cost carrier can encourage those people, who have never previously travelled by air, to fly.
“For Africa, with its densely populated cities separated by great distances - this means a potential new market of millions.”
Rubicon said: “The combined talents of Rubicon’s management team and our partners from Lonrho and Sir Stelios’ easyGroup will transform Fly540, already a growing and successful business, into Fastjet, a low cost, point-to-point, no frills all jet airline for Africa.”
The statement added: “Plans for the launch of ‘Fastjet’ are underway but not yet finalised and the introduction of an appropriate fleet of modern jet aircraft may require the raising of additional funding”.
FastJet will fly between Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and Angola and the average fare will be $70-$80. Ed Winter, former easyJet chief operating officer will become Fastjet CEO.
Flights are expected to take off before the end of the year.