Those of us who have had the pleasure of negotiating the open skies of sub-Saharan Africa often realize that it is cheaper and more efficient to fly between African capitals via Frankfurt or Dubai instead of boarding a local puddle-jumper. Fly Africa, a low-cost carrier based in Zimbabwe, wants to change this.
The airline was launched in 2014 and is now expanding its route network into some of Africa’s largest cities. To prove its ambitions, it has already cut prices by 50-70 percent on routes between Johannesburg and Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. Now, thanks to a new round of funding from South African arms manufacturer Ivor Ichikowitz, the airline is planning expansions into Namibia, Gabon, Benin and Zambia followed by a push into east Africa. Mr. Ichikowitz’s controversial connections with political leaders across the continent shouldn’t hurt as the airline brokers agreements with various nations. A promotion earlier this year, whereby flights from Cape Town to Johannesburg were priced at R50 (US$ 4), was met with consternation and derision from competitors.
Africa is expected to register the world’s highest airline passenger growth in the next two decades. Other international carriers, including London-based FastJet, have also set their sights on the continent in a bid to capture a piece of the action. A multitude of budget airlines have suffered through fits and starts over the years, but very few have stood the test of time.