Fastjet signals end to Fly540 dispute

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Fastjet appears to have taken a significant step towards ending its ownership dispute with partner Five Forty Aviation, the parent company of the Fly540 brand.

Announcing the signing of an MoU with Five Forty Aviation CEO Don Smith, Fastjet says it is close to "resolving recent disputes and establishing a way by which the two parties can work together".

In March, Fastjet launched proceedings in Britain's High Court in an effort to force Smith to relinquish control of Fly540 Kenya - one of four airline subsidiaries acquired by the startup carrier last year.

Fastjet was responding to Smith's earlier accusation that it had failed to honour Fly540's legacy debts and had breached safety regulations, effectively nullifying the acquisition of Five Forty Aviation.

"The signing of this MoU provides a positive platform for Fastjet to strengthen its east African hub," comments Fastjet chief executive Ed Winter.

"Both Fastjet and Don Smith are pleased to be putting the unfortunate, highly publicised events of the past few months behind us. Don Smith remains the CEO of the Kenyan business and we are pleased to have him as part of the Fastjet/Fly540 team."

The airline says it will provide "further positive updates" in due course. Five Forty Aviation has not yet issued a reciprocal statement confirming the MoU.

If the dispute is comprehensively laid to rest, Tanzania-based Fastjet could expedite plans to export its brand into Kenya, Ghana and Angola. Its original business model had envisioned using Fly540's air operators' certificates in those countries.

Fastjet is backed by EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou and has long-term plans to roll out the low-cost business model across the African continent.

The airline has also held discussions with provisionally liquidated South African carrier 1time Airline, as well as defunct Kenyan operator Jetlink Express. It currently operates a fleet of three Airbus A319s.