FastJet Says Tanzania Flights Turn Profitable as Sales Build Up

FastJet Plc (FJET), seeking to become the first pan-African discount airline, said its initial operations in Tanzania have turned profitable after sales surged 50 percent in five months and that international services will start soon.

Revenue from the East African country reached $1.8 million last month, with sales per passenger rising 62 percent, London-based FastJet said today in a statement, adding that the same level of performance is being maintained into June.

FastJet said it’s seeking Tanzanian government approval to serve other countries from Dar es Salaam shortly as flights begun in November using Airbus SAS A319 planes more than cover their direct operating costs. Operations in Ghana and Angola flown by the Fly540 unit are also showing passenger increases.

“We have grown the business substantially in the face of challenges,” Chief Executive Officer Ed Winter said. “Prospects in each of our operations look very positive and our aim to become Africa’s first low-cost carrier is well on its way.”

FastJet shares rose as much as 19 percent, the biggest gain since a listing on London’s Alternative Investment Market on July 2 last year, and were trading 17 percent higher at 0.79 pence as of 9:31 a.m. in London.

The stock has still lost 79 percent this year, valuing the company at 19 million pounds ($29 million).

Services in Ghana flown by Fly540 -- purchased by FastJet to gain operating rights -- boosted passenger numbers 52 percent from a year earlier after web bookings showed a fivefold gain.

Angolan traffic surged 63 percent to an all-time high, and more pilots are undergoing training there with a view to boosting the scale of its operation “as soon as practical.”

FastJet plans to commence flights in South Africa in early July via a local affiliate in which it will have a 25 percent stake, according to a statement on May 31. The plan wasn’t mentioned in today’s operational update.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Wall in London at rwall6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net

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