African low-cost airline fastjet unveils new branding

Africa’s new low-cost airline fastjet, backed by easyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou, this week unveiled its new logo. The new branding features the African Grey parrot, which according to the airline reflects its mission, values and target customers.

“The African Grey is renowned for its intelligence and is therefore a perfect personification of fastjet’s motto: smart travel,” commented fastjet CEO Ed Winter.

Fastjet is a partnership between Lonrho, the pan-African investment group, and easyGroup. As part of the deal, Lonrho’s Fly540 carrier that operates in East Africa, Angola and Ghana, will be rebranded as fastjet. The plan is to greatly expand Fly540’s current routes and offerings.

According to a statement by the company, fastjet will start selling tickets next week ahead of the airline’s first flight later this month. Fastjet has acquired three Airbus A319s as part of its fleet. These three planes are currently in the process of being painted with the fastjet branding.

“Air travel in the African continent appears to us to offer an attractive opportunity based on the outlook for economic growth and rising consumer spending in the continent,” says Anthea Alexander, an analyst at Renaissance Capital. “First the vast distances separating Africa’s major hubs, and the infrastructural challenges impeding road and rail travel, present a good case for air travel demand in Africa. We note that the number of passengers flying into Africa has seen strong growth over the years; in 2010 more than 150 million passengers transited through African airports, up 9.5% on 2009.”

She also believes that easyGroup’s association will give fastjet access to a wealth of experience in the aviation industry.

However, according to Alexander, the new airline can expect some turbulence. “Airline capacity is growing in Africa, which implies increasing competition. If fastjet can offer true low-cost rates, we think this will give it a significant advantage over its competitors,” she notes.

EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou is certainly optimistic about fastjet’s prospects. “This is another small but significant step in bringing the dream of low-cost air travel to millions of people in Africa – the aviation industry’s last frontier,” Haji-Ioannou recently commented.

“Past experience shows by halving fares, a successful low-cost carrier can encourage those people, who have never previously travelled by air, to fly. For Africa, with its densely populated cities separated by great distances – this means a potential new market of millions,” he added.