African low-cost start-up Fastjet is in negotiations to buy grounded South African budget operator 1time Airline from parent company 1time Holdings.
1time was forced to suspend flights at the start of November after filing for business rescue in August. Under the proposed deal, Fastjet would pay a nominal fee to acquire the airline and reach a settlement with 1time's creditors. It would ultimately rebrand the carrier under the Fastjet name.
"If this transaction goes ahead and the timescales are extremely challenging - we would hope to get 1time flying again in time for the Christmas holiday period," says Fastjet chief executive Ed Winter, in a statement issued confirming the negotiations.
"Flights would initially be operated by a number of aircraft from the 1time fleet including Boeing MD-82s, MD-83s and MD-87s, but restructuring plans would see a rapid re-fleeting with modern Airbus A319 aircraft." Fastjet is operating Airbus narrowbodies and operation of the older fleet amid high fuel prices was one of 1time's biggest challenges.
Fastjet, which launched flights at the end of last month from Tanzania and is planning operations from Kenya, Angola and Ghana, earmarked proceeds from a recent share offer to the "earlier than expected" opportunity to explore launching a southern African base.
"The acquisition of 1time would be a complementary strategic fit for Fastjet's growth into a pan-African low-cost carrier and the synergies with Fastjet would potentially increase the number of available route networks from South Africa into the rest of Africa," says Winter. "1time would be rebranded into the Fastjet brand and sold through Fastjet.com."
The airline says negotiations have not yet been concluded and are subject to board, parent company and regulatory approval.