FastJet Targets South African Market With Option to Buy 1time

Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) -- FastJet Plc, the African low-cost airline venture, said it has acquired the option to buy South Africa’s 1time Airline in a move that could expand its operations to one of the continent’s largest aviation markets.

FastJet would buy the bankrupt South African airline from parent 1time Holding Ltd. for $0.12, the London-based carrier said in a statement today. 1time operations under the FastJet brand would begin next year if the option is exercised, it said.

FastJet commenced service three weeks ago with flights in Tanzania and has ambitions to build a network across the African continent using a fleet of Airbus SAS A319s. The company is backed by Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder of EasyJet Plc, and is majority owned by mining and agricultural group Lonrho Plc.

“The acquisition of 1time supports FastJet’s growth into a pan-African low cost carrier and the synergies with FastJet’ s existing operations will potentially increase the number of available route networks from South Africa into the rest of Africa,” FastJet Chief Executive Officer Ed Winter said.

Initial service would span domestic South African routes involving Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and East London, FastJet said.

FastJet plans to take over some of MD80-type aircraft that made up the 1time fleet at the time the airline went bust last month. The aircraft will be replaced by A319s, Winter said.

Approval from regulators is required, as well as a court-sanctioned settlement with 1time creditors, FastJet said.

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