FastJet to launch in October
Africa’s new low-cost carrier FastJet has announced it will launch with the Airbus A319 this October. The airline, led by easyJet founder and FastJet chairman Stelios Haji-Ioannou, will be leased to holding company Rubicon, which has merged with Lonrho Aviation to create its aviation platform. Lonrho, which already operates in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Angola, owns 74.9% of the London-listed business, while easyGroup owns 5%. “The decision to launch FastJet with the Airbus A319 enables us to expand rapidly with each aircraft potentially carrying around 250,000 passengers a year. Rubicon expects passenger numbers to double from current levels within six months of the introduction of the A319 fleet,” said Ed Winter, chief executive of Rubicon on the announcement. More here
Sales upturn for Acacia Africa
Acacia Africa has dubbed South Africa its country to watch following increased sales to the destination. Bookings at the tour operator are said to have surpassed 2011 since February, with demand up across all its tours but South Africa highlighted as one of its top sellers. Leanne Haigh, product and development manager at Acacia Africa said the pound’s currency against the rand had helped encourage sales, as well as lesser-known destinations. “Consumers are becoming more adventurous and while the Kruger National Park and Cape Town are major draw cards for South Africa, it’s the country’s best kept secrets and up and coming provinces, for example KwaZulu-Natal, that will keep sales buoyant,” she explained. “It’s about exciting the consumer, the research and development phase playing a defining role in the growth of sales in South Africa, and across the Sub-Saharan region”.
Rwanda Africa’s fastest-growing air market
Rwanda is the fastest growing aviation market in Africa, according to a new report. OAG’s latest Market Analysis report revealed that the number of scheduled air seats in Rwanda increased by 22% per year between 2008 and 2012 – ahead of Sao Tome & Principe (+21%) and Angola (+17%). South Africa remains the best served country in Africa, although it grew just 1% in the past 12 months. Egypt is second, followed by Nigeria, Morocco and Algeria. Tanzania’s Coastal Aviation recently announced a new service to Rwanda, connecting Kigali to Mwanza.
Hilton expands in North Africa
Hilton Worldwide has signed three new hotels in North Africa, including its first two in the Moroccan city of Tangier. The Hilton Tangier City Center Hotel & Residences and Hilton Garden Inn Tangier City Center (pictured) will mark Hilton’s debut in the north Moroccan city when they open in 2015, while the company will also expand its portfolio in Egypt with the addition of the 390-room Hilton Giza Pyramids and the 195-room Hilton Alexandria King’s Ranch Resort.
UNESCO urges end to Timbuktu destruction
UNESCO has called for an end to the destruction of heritage sites in Timbuktu. The town in northern Mali was seized by the Al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine insurgents recently, and the Islamist group is reported to have destroyed three tombs that form part of the Timbuktu World Heritage site. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova called the reports “extremely distressing” and said there is “no justification for such wanton destruction”.
Etihad launches flights to Nigeria
Etihad Airways has commenced a new service between Abu Dhabi and Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos. The carrier will operate the route six times a week using an A330-200 aircraft with 262 seats – 22 in business class and 240 in economy class. The launch flight was operated using a special sky blue aircraft in the colours of English football team, Manchester City. The service builds on Etihad’s existing flights to Cairo, Casablanca, Johannesburg, Khartoum, Nairobi and Tripoli.