A uthorities say Fastjet’s claim that it is suspending flights into Malawi due to failure by government to meet its demand to operate a second route between Blantyre and Dar es Salaam is failure of its business model.
The Tanzanian company started flights into Malawi in July 2015, but says it is suspending services effective February 12.
“It is a business decision. First of all, they applied to be flying to Lilongwe and we gave them that authority. It was not on condition that we allow them fly to Blantyre as well,” said Minister of Transport and Public Works, Francis Kasaila.
“To me, it is the business model that has failed them and nothing else. They should accept that it did not yield the results they were looking for. They thought they are going to push Malawian Airlines out of that route. They reduced fares so significantly such that they were running on loses thinking that Malawi Airlines will pull out and then they hike their fees. That did not happen.”
He said the airline could not be flying to Blantyre because Chileka International Airport cannot accommodate more flights, adding even South African Airways (SAA) were affected by the same.
Fastjet commercial officer Richard Bodin earlier said his company was thrilled by the positive reception it got in Malawi, saying its low-cost fares enabled people to fly for the first time.
“Fastjet had been working closely with the Malawian Ministry of Transport and Public Works and the Malawi Civil Aviation Authority to secure the necessary clearances to allow us to extend our Lilongwe route to Blantyre, which is the commercial centre of Malawi.
“Unfortunately, these clearances have not been forthcoming, despite other international airlines, including Ethiopian Airlines, Malawian Airlines, South African Airways and Kenya Airways being allowed to fly to Blantyre,” he said. n