fastjet’s inaugural flight between Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Harare in Zimbabwe took off yesterday, marking the launch of the low-cost airline’s third international route across Africa.
Fastjet is the only direct air link between Tanzania and Zimbabwe, with a total of three flights per week.
Previously, those wishing to travel between Dar es Salaam and Harare had to spend at least two days travelling the approximately 2200km by road, or they had to fly via Nairobi in Kenya or Johannesburg in South Africa involving lengthy layovers.
The new route offered by fastjet provides a solution to this problem, with twice-weekly flights now flying between Harare International Airport in Zimbabwe and Dar es Salaam’s Julius Nyerere International Airport in Tanzania.
No visas are required for citizens of the two countries for visits of less than 90 days.
fastjet flights depart Dar es Salaam at 19h25 and arrive in Harare at 20h55 on Tuesdays and Saturdays, with a flight time of two hours and 30 minutes. The return flight to Dar es Salaam departs Harare at 21h35, arriving at 01h00 the following morning. Dar es Salaam is one hour ahead of Harare.
“fastjet has responded to requests from Zimbabweans and Tanzanians asking for a direct route connecting these two cities with affordable, reliable flights,” said Ed Winter, Chief Executive Officer of fastjet.
“Until now, travellers had to depend on lengthy road transportation or have been excluded from air travel by the significant costs of flying an indirect route through Nairobi or Johannesburg.”
“We believe that affordable fares will enable more people to travel between Zimbabwe and Tanzania, strengthening the countries’ relationships and boosting their tourism and business sectors, contributing significantly to the economic growth of both countries.” Winter added.
“The Government of Zimbabwe is delighted that fastjet is expanding its international route network to include Harare, and that in doing so it is bringing its low-cost, reliable and safe service to the people of Zimbabwe,” says Zimbabwe’s Minister of Transport, the Honourable Dr Obert Mpofu.
“fastjet’s entry into Zimbabwe demonstrates the Ministry of Transport’s on-going commitment to the improvement of our country’s aviation industry. We look forward to continuing our discussions with fastjet regarding the airline’s further expansion in Zimbabwe.”
Tickets for flights on the direct route went on sale in June 2014, with fares starting as low as US$50 one-way, excluding airport and government taxes – considerably more affordable than the non-direct flights that are currently the only air link between the two cities.
“We have been very pleased at the ticket sales in both cities, which have already significantly exceeded our expectations, with several of our flights being completely sold out” says Winter. “We are already planning to increase the frequency of flights between Dar es Salaam and Harare as soon as possible.”
With its low-cost fares, fastjet is making air travel more accessible to even more people with the launch of this route, and expects many of its passengers travelling between Harare and Dar es Salaam to be first time flyers.
Supporting this expectation is the research undertaken by the airline after its launch in Tanzania, which showed that 38% of its passengers were first time flyers.
“Affordable air travel is key to the growth of economies across Africa,” Winter says. “It is expensive and time-consuming to build roads to connect cities, inconvenient for people to travel over land, and if there are existing airlines flying any particular route, they still exclude the majority of a country’s citizens due to the high cost of those flights.”
fastjet operates internationally from Dar es Salaam to Johannesburg, Lusaka and now Harare, and has a significant Tanzanian domestic network including flights from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza, Kilimanjaro and Mbeya.