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When London-based Fastjet took to the skies in Tanzania in November 2012, chief executive Ed Winter vowed to “democratise air travel in Africa” by importing the low-cost carrier (LCC) model that had proved so successful elsewhere in the world.
His vision of a 40-strong fleet catalysing price-sensitive demand was dismissed by many industry experts, who rattled off a familiar roll-call of challenges facing LCCs in Africa. Bilateral restrictions, high fuel prices, monopolised ground services, and a lack of secondary airports had confounded all prior efforts by no-frills operators to break into the continent.
Fast forward two years and the start-up’s achievements to date fall somewhere in the middle of these two narratives...