(Business Day NG)- Plans by Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder of Europe’s low-fare airline, EasyJet, to set up an airline in West Africa to be based in Ghana and on the low cost model, could ruffle the aviation market for Nigerian airlines Arik, Air Nigeria and Aero, except they actively respond to the competition that the new airline will pose, said industry analysts at the weekend.
The new low-fare airline is to be known as Fastjet and will see Stelios and his partners make S500 million investment for it to take off. Last month, a management team working on the new venture was in Ghana to conduct studies for the airline’s take off.
Arik, Air Nigeria and Aero have been dominant in West Africa, with Arik and Air Nigeria particularly expanding their regional route coverage in the last two years. An aviation analyst said at the weekend that the entry of Fastjet is likely to affect the operations of the Nigerian airlines.
“You can bet it would affect the operations of other airlines in the region. They are coming with plenty money,” he said.
The new airline, given the antecedent of the EasyJet founder, is already being tipped to run efficiently and offer better services which would drive passengers its way. “Remember, we are also talking about low fares that they would charge and I expect that this would be an attraction to passengers. Price and reliability will be a pull,” said the analyst.
Ed Winter, a former chief operating officer of EasyJet and member of the new airline management team, said of the scope of the new business: “We could link Ghana to 10 or 15 different countries in West Africa.”
The airline is looking at a 15-aircraft fleet, starting with five in the first year and then moving to 15 within two years. A lot of that would depend on the levels of taxes in the West African region, which are believed to have been a major hindrance over the years to operating the low cost model in the region. Click to continue reading the full story