Africa’s fastjet in ticket access deal with Emirates airline

Passengers of the airline will be able to fly on the Emirates network via Dubai.

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Fastjet has signed a deal with Emirates airline which will allow passengers of the Dubai carrier to buy tickets on its network in East and southern Africa as it aims to become the first discount pan-African carrier.

Fastjet is the British holding company for low-cost carriers in Africa. The company operates fastjet Tanzania and received a licence for fastjet Zimbabwe on Wednesday. There are plans for fastjet Zambia to take off before the end of the year.

Subsequently, passengers of the airline will be able to fly on the Emirates network via Dubai.

The deal with Emirates is “a significant validation of our operation, service and proven low-cost model,” said Richard Bodin, the fastjet chief commercial officer.

Will Horton, an analyst with Centre for Aviation, said that there were several advantages of Emirates partnering with fastjet.

“First there is the opportunity to have a wide reach with one brand rather than have to sign and manage agreements with distinct carriers in each country. There’s no need to look for a partner in Tanzania and another in Zimbabwe since Fastjet has a base in both. As Fastjet grows with four more bases, the deal can be expanded. It has the potential to be very scaleable.”

Fastjet warned investors last month that it would post losses this year – citing turbulence resulting from the elections in Tanzania, along with the depreciation of the Tanzanian shilling against the US dollar, and the poor performance of the commodities market.

The deal with fastjet is not the first of its kind for Emirates. In August 2014, the airline signed a partnership agreement with Nigeria’s Arik Air that opened up new routes throughout western Africa.

Emirates is boosting its presence in Africa as the UAE grows in popularity as a base for multinational companies. The UAE’s links with Africa have swelled in recent years amid rising trade and investments. Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been active in encouraging companies in Dubai to boost exports to a continent with a market of more than 1 billion people.

Flydubai, Emirates’ sister airline, is also bullish on the African market. The low-cost carrier launched its first route to Djibouti in 2009 and currently flies to 13 destinations in Africa including Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania.

Mr Horton said that Dubai and the larger Gulf region can be a hub for Africa. “It’s been a quieter part of the Gulf carriers’ growth but is important with more to come.”

Meanwhile, Alan Joyce, the Qantas chief executive, yesterday said he is looking at ways to expand its partnership with Emirates.

“We would like to see Emirates flying into more Australian destinations, which they’re keen on,” Mr Joyce told Reuters on the sidelines of the Capa World Aviation Summit in Helsinki.

“We think it’s working so well, there has to be more we can do,” he said. Qantas will also discuss with Emirates the best way to use slots at London Heathrow, with two that were leased to British Airways reverting to Qantas at the end of 2017.

The Australian carrier agreed to an alliance with Emirates in 2012 as part of its turnaround, switching its hub for European flights to Dubai – the Emirates base – from Singapore and coordinating on pricing, sales and schedules.

selgazzar@thenational.ae

* with Reuters