|New bird in the sky|
|Saturday, 18 August 2012 13:44|
ZIMBABWE’S first low-cost airline, Fresh Air, will begin offering flights next month following the completion of all civil aviation regulatory procedures and test flights, the company announced.Fresh Air is a joint venture between South African aviation group 1time Airline and a Zimbabwean company, Nu-Aero.
1time chief executive officer, Mr Blacky Komani, said Africa was the only continent where the low-cost carrier model was yet to take flight on regional destinations.
The joint venture would begin offering flights to Victoria Falls in September.
As part of the initial agreement, 1time would cease its current Livingstone route in favour of flights between Johannesburg and Victoria Falls, which would subsequently become a Fresh Air operation.
1time would use its fleet of aircraft to serve the route, while Fresh Air would provide the licences to operate in Zimbabwe.
Both airlines would initially co-operate in a wide range of operational and commercial facets, including the provision of aircraft and crew, as well as administrative functions such as revenue management and revenue accounting.
Fresh Air and 1time have completed the Civil Aviation Authority regulatory demonstration flight from OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg to Harare International Airport, before flying to Victoria Falls and then back to Johannesburg.
“Our partnership with Fresh Air is simple; we share our experience and infrastructure in the aviation industry while Fresh Air launches Zimbabwe’s first low-cost carrier, with licences to operate the underserviced domestic market and various regional routes to be announced in the near future. In doing so, Fresh Air are creating jobs and building a foundation for a sustainable business,’’ Mr Komani said.
Transport, Communication and Infrastructure Development permanent secretary, Mr Munesu Munodawafa said his ministry expected the new airline to improve connectivity on the domestic network for tourists, business and the general travellers.
“The new airline will service domestic and regional routes, I have no doubt about that. It has also sent a positive signal to indigenous players. We view the coming on board of Fresh Air in the aviation industry as the beginning of serious business,’’ he said.
Fresh Air chief executive officer, Mr Chakanyuka Karase, commented in a statement that the airline’s entry into the market and its strategic partnership with 1time would provide an opportunity to stimulate domestic and regional air travel ahead of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s general assembly in Zimbabwe next year.
“The entry of a low-cost carrier in Zimbabwe has great potential, and we are proud to have launched into this partnership with 1time, who already has palpable successes in the no-frills market. We have absolutely no doubt that this business model will succeed as it is exactly what our emerging economy needs to maintain sustainability, and is an efficient way to connect families, businesses and tourist destinations,’’ he said.
1time will have a short-term dispensation to operate aircraft on the ZS register, while executing a migration to a Zimbabwean-registered and crewed operation. This process will be carried out within a year.