Fastjet Zimbabwe Expands Domestic Operations

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Fastjet Zimbabwe, a prominent airline in Zimbabwe, has recently made significant strides in expanding its domestic operations within the country. To gain more insights into their domestic route development strategy and the impact on Zimbabwe’s tourism sector, Airspace Africa’s Victor Odhiambo had the privilege of speaking with Nunurai Ndawana, the spokesperson for Fastjet Zimbabwe at the recently concluded AviaDev Africa event in Nairobi.

Nunurai provides valuable information about their latest developments, the factors influencing their decision to launch flights to their new destinations, the choice of aircraft, and the expected economic impact on tourism in Hwange National Park and Kariba.

VO: Let’s start with Fastjet Zimbabwe’s recent expansion of domestic operations in Zimbabwe. Can you provide more insights into Fastjet Zimbabwe’s domestic route development strategy?

NN: Thank you so much, Victor, for having me. We recently launched new domestic routes in Zimbabwe, namely to Hwange and Kariba National Park. This expansion aims to increase the number of destinations we operate within the country. Previously, we served Harare, Bulawayo, and Victoria Falls. With the introduction of Kariba and Hwange, we now offer a total of five destinations. These new routes aim to promote tourism in Zimbabwe, making it easier for visitors and tourists to access these destinations and contribute to the overall development of the country’s economy.

VO: What were the main factors that influenced your decision to launch flights to Kariba and Hwange National Park?

NN: Zimbabwe is a country with outstanding tourism facilities, and these areas were not previously connected by air. We are committed to improving connectivity, so it was a strategic decision to extend our services to these locations. By connecting Hwange National Park and Lake Kariba to our existing hubs in Victoria Falls and Harare, respectively, we are promoting tourism development in those areas. These strategic decisions align with our goal of enhancing connectivity and supporting the growth of tourism in Zimbabwe.

VO: I noticed that you are using the Embraer 120, a 30-seater aircraft, for these flights. Can you tell us more about the reasons behind this choice and its suitability for operating these routes?

NN: Prior to the Embraer 120 fleet, we were already operating Embraer products, specifically the Embraer ERJ 145. By selecting the Embraer 120, we are sticking with a product we are familiar with. Additionally, this aircraft is suitable for the route and destinations we serve. The turboprop configuration allows compatibility with the landing path in Kariba, and its 30-passenger capacity provides the flexibility required for developing these destinations. Kariba, for instance, had not been served by air for a number of years, so introducing a larger aircraft would not have been appropriate initially. The Embraer 120 offers a comfortable cabin and allows us to provide FastJet’s quality service while operating a turboprop aircraft.

VO: In terms of passenger capacity and operational efficiency, what advantages do these aircraft provide?

NN: From an operational efficiency standpoint, the turboprop configuration of the Embraer 120 consumes less fuel, resulting in cost savings. Moreover, the 30-passenger capacity allows for a lower break-even point, enhancing operational efficiency. The aircraft’s ability to land and take off on shorter runways is particularly advantageous for Kariba, where the runway is substantially shorter compared to other airports we operate from. The physical design and layout of the Kariba runway, with the lake on one end and power cables and mountains on the other, require a specific type of aircraft. The Embraer 120 fulfills these requirements while offering comfort to passengers.

VO: Considering the economic impact, how do you envision these flights influencing tourism in Kariba and Hwange National Park?

NN: Each route has a catalyst effect on local economies, and by launching flights to Kariba and Hwange, we stimulate demand for travel to these destinations. When people plan their holidays, air access is one of the first considerations. By providing flights, we increase accessibility and promote these destinations. Economically, we anticipate a positive impact on both room availability and local businesses. As more tourists visit Kariba and Hwange, we expect to see a fuller occupancy of rooms and increased spending by visitors, resulting in a multiplier effect on the local economy.

VO: Are you collaborating with local tourism authorities to promote these destinations?

NN: Yes, we work closely with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and other partners within the tourism industry to promote and support these destinations.

VO: Are there any plans to expand the number of flights or increase frequencies in the future?

NN: Currently, we have introduced flights to previously underserved destinations. Our initial focus is on consolidating these new routes and allowing the market to become familiar with the availability of flights to Hwange National Park and Kariba. As we move forward, we will review the frequencies and consider adjustments based on market demand and passenger needs.

VO: Finally, does FastJet Zimbabwe have any plans for international expansion or partnerships in the near future?

NN: In the current calendar year, our main focus is on consolidating our network. However, we keep track of opportunities and assess them based on our internal capabilities and the projected development of specific routes. If the circumstances align, we may make a decision to launch flights to new destinations. Rest assured, you will be among the first to know if we have any announcements regarding international expansions or partnerships.


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