As Zimbabwe relaxed the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and opened up flights and other tourism services, Fastjet has resumed its domestic flights in Zimbabwe.
This reporter witnessed a remarkable improvement in security at the Robert Mugabe and the Joshua Nkomo International Airports in as far as COVID-19 preventive measures are concerned.
Mr. Felix Nyangani, the Head of Safety and Security of Fastjet said his company takes safety as its number one priority.
“Travellers are sprayed upon entering the departure lounge. We also sanitise them and enforce social distancing measures both in the lounges and in the aeroplanes. Our customers’ health and safety come first as we offer them our excellent services to take them to their various destinations in the shortest possible time,” Mr Nyangani said.
Fastjet is a multi-award-winning African airline Group that began flight operations in November 2012 with, fastjet Tanzania. The airline launched flying passengers from its hub in Dar es Salaam to just two domestic destinations, Kilimanjaro and Mwanza, and over the years the route network expanded to include additional domestic and regional destinations.
In 2015, fastjet Zimbabwe commenced operations, flying from Harare to domestic destinations, which was followed by the expansion with regional flights to South Africa.
In November 2017, fastjet Mozambique was established as the third group airline. With flights operated by Solenta Aviation Mozambique, fastjet branded flights commenced between Maputo and Beira, Nampula, and Tete.
In October 2018, the fastjet Group purchased Federal Airlines (Proprietary) Limited (“FedAir”) via its subsidiary, Parrot Aviation (Proprietary) Limited (“Parrot”). FedAir is one of the most multi-faceted aviation companies in South Africa, having innovated the service of flying guest shuttles to some of Africa’s most stunning luxury safari lodges in the 1990s. FedAir has since partnered with world leaders in luxury safari experiences as part of their commitment to raise the bar in bespoke aviation. In 2019, FedAir began operating ACMI services using one Embraer ERJ145 aircraft.
As fastjet gained operational experience in southern Africa markets, its strategies evolved, as is common with developing businesses. This led, inter alia, to the fastjet Group divesting from its first business, fastjet Tanzania, on 26 November 2018. Also, in October 2019, fastjet Mozambique suspended operations.
Today the fastjet Group operates two airlines: firstly, fastjet Zimbabwe, domestically in Zimbabwe and internationally between Zimbabwe and South Africa, and secondly, FedAir, in South Africa. The Group airlines have flown over 3.5 million domestic and international passengers with an impressive aggregate on-time performance, establishing a reputation as a punctual, reliable, and affordable value airline offering, with inclusive and complimentary services to all customers.
On 3 November 2019, fastjet celebrated its fourth successful year of operations in Zimbabwe. The carrier operates services between Harare and Bulawayo, Harare and Victoria Falls, and internationally from Harare and Bulawayo to Johannesburg in South Africa, which remains a popular destination choice for fastjet customers.
Fastjet Zimbabwe currently operates two Embraer ERJ-145 aircraft, with 50 seats in a single class configuration.
“Whilst expansion plans which had been programmed for 2020 for travel beyond the borders of Zimbabwe have been deferred, fastjet continues to explore the demand for new routes, as Zimbabwe and our fellow African communities rebuild and unite for Africa we want to share; rich in culture, creativity, and hospitality,” said Fastjet Chief Operations Officer Donahue Cortes.
Fastjet awards include Leading African Low-Cost Carrier World Travel Awards 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019, and Skytrax World Airline Awards Best Low-Cost Airline in Africa 2017 and 2019.
COVID-19 PANDEMIC BACKGROUND
Fastjet Zimbabwe suspended all scheduled flights as from 27 March 2020, in compliance with the introduction of restrictions on air travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictions affected domestic and international flights.
Following the announcement by the Government of Zimbabwe on the 08 September 2020, advising of the lifting of restrictions on regular domestic and international air transportation, fastjet Zimbabwe issued a statement confirming that their domestic flights would resume effective Monday 21 September 2020. The airline confirmed that on resuming services, they would be operating on a reduced frequency and would be reviewing their programme in line with customer demand.
RESUMPTION OF SERVICES
Flights between Harare and Bulawayo will operate every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, starting on the 21st of September 2020.
Flights between Harare and Victoria Falls will operate every Thursday and Sunday, starting on 01st October 2020.
Flights between Harare and Johannesburg (OR Tambo) will operate daily, starting 01st October 2020, with two flights a day planned Monday to Friday, and a single flight per day on Saturday and Sunday.
Flights between Bulawayo and Johannesburg are scheduled to commence at the end of November 2020. The airline is considering an earlier resumption date and further announcements will be made over the coming days.
The fastjet travel shops and Customer Call Centre reopened on 14th September.
“LET’S GO FLYING” WITH VALUE FARES
With new travel norms and customer expectations at the forefront of its business objectives fastjet Zimbabwe announced the launch of a Promotional Fares campaign across their domestic route network, as they set to welcome back local travellers as from Monday 21 September 2020.
With a renewed domestic network plan, the airline will recommence local flights, between Harare and Bulawayo, from 21 September, and between Harare and Victoria Falls from 01 October, with introductory promotional web fares, starting from $100 US Dollars one way, including taxes and free baggage allowances. Promotional fares on the Harare to Johannesburg route start from $115 US Dollars one way, including taxes and free baggage allowances.
The airline considers this latest promotion as part of their ongoing commitment in support of Zimbabwe’s Post COVID-19 tourism recovery strategy, and the initiatives of the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism & Hospitality Industry, and Zimbabwe Tourism Authority.
In announcing their latest promotion under the “Let’s Go” theme, a fastjet official stated that “We expect that until we become familiar with the new travel norms, flying is likely to be slightly different. We, therefore, shall maintain our focus on adding value and providing peace of mind for customers, helping restore connectivity amongst our communities, contribute to the economic recovery of the country, and of course, lift people’s spirits through the power of travel.”
Promotional fares apply for flights until 31 October, and are available online, subject to availability. Customers are encouraged to book early with the peace of mind that the Flexible Change Policy applies to new bookings until 15 March 2021