FastJet precursor Fly540 sees 48% rise in traffic

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Fly540, the pan-African low-cost carrier acquired by Stelios Haji-Ioannou's FastJet venture, has posted 48.4% year-on-year growth in passenger numbers for July.

It carried 60,400 passengers during the month, with load factor rising by 2.4 percentage points to 65.2%. For the 12 months to 31 July, passenger numbers were up 81.1% to 609,000.

Alongside its traffic report, Fly540 has also announced the acquisition of one 76-seat Embraer 170 and one 66-seat ATR72 - scheduled to enter service in late August.

The E-170 (MSN 004) has been sourced from ECC Leasing and was previously operated by Colombia's Satena, according to Flightglobal's Ascend Online database. It will now be based in Ghana.

Fly540 also has air operator's certification in Kenya, Tanzania and Angola.

Earlier this week, executive chairman David Lenigas said FastJet is due to begin operations with its first 156-seat Airbus A319 in east Africa in November - pushing back the launch date by one month.

The airline will initially operate alongside Fly540 before gradually taking over the latter's routes as more jets enter the fleet, chief executive Ed Winter told Flightglobal in June.

He hopes to grow the A319 fleet to up to 40 aircraft during the first few years of operations, targeting an annual turnover of $1 billion.

Fly540 currently operates a fleet of seven turboprops and three regional jets.

Winter says Africa is primed for rapid growth in the low-cost carrier market, with the emerging middle class and weak ground-based transportation fuelling demand for European-style no-frills travel.