Fastjet 'more conservative' about growth

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Fastjet has adopted a far more conservative growth forecast than previously because of red tape it has encountered in its first year of operations, says its chief commercial officer.

At the World Low Cost Airlines Congress in London, Richard Bodin said bureaucratic hurdles and delays in gaining bilateral clearances to operate international routes from the low-cost airline's Dar es Salaam base has constrained its expansion on the continent.

"We have found that things take far longer in Africa than expected. That can have an effect on the business. We are developing a far more conservative view about how quickly we will grow and how quickly things will move forward," he says.

The success of gaining bilateral clearance is "so variable" says Bodin, and is "very much driven" by the desire for it at the end of the route.

"As far as the Tanzanian process is concerned, it's fine, but it's really a question of the other end saying: 'Do we want this?' If so, they will fast track it through; if they don't, then forms will go missing or phone calls won't be returned. Every delay known to man will be applied," he says.

However, Bodin does not expect similar problems with the launch of future international routes to Zambian capital Lusaka, Zimbabwean capital Harare and Malawian capital Lilongwe, "which will happen when we want it to happen".

Meanwhile, Fastjet is priotising its new international route Dar es Salaam-Johannesburg, and plans to go from three frequencies a week to a daily service, pending build-up of demand.

Bodin says the airline has seen revenue "going in the right direction", and that load factors have been strong.