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Fastjet mulls cutting East African flights further

Low-cost carrier Fastjet could cut its East African flights further beginning next month as part of a route rationalisation exercise meant to match frequencies and customer demand.

Fastjet, which launched direct flights between Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on January 11, says “rationalisation” of its East African flights will take effect on December 5.

The budget carrier, which also operates in Tanzania and Uganda, has faced a hard time on its Kenya routes and was soon after launch forced to end it Kilimanjaro flights and reduce the Dar ones to twice a week.

In a trading update released on Friday, the UK budget airline hinted at more frequency reductions taking place regionally as the firm reorganises its East African business.

“The company has continued the process of assessing its route network and has aggressively rationalised routes and/or reduced frequencies to more sustainably match supply levels with demand,” Fastjet said in a statement.

“This process is nearing completion, with rationalisation of flight activities between Tanzania and Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda as well as between Tanzania and Zimbabwe taking effect on December 5, 2016.”

Fastjet East African general manager Jimmy Kibati declined to comment on the upcoming flight changes. The carrier also announced that it would be seeking more funds sooner than originally expected to achieve a turnaround.

Fastjet said the cost and terms associated with returning leased aircraft had been more onerous than previously expected, leading it to believe that it would need to raise further capital.

This prompted the firm’s chairman Colin Child to resign on Friday after months of the firm battling its second-biggest investor to retain him.

READ: Fastjet chairman resigns as African airline seeks more funds

EasyGroup Holdings, which holds a 12.6 per cent in Fastjet, earlier this year sought to oust Mr Child, saying he failed to relocate the airline’s head office quickly and criticised him for a high cost base.

Fastjet plans to complete its fund-raising exercise in the first quarter of 2017.

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