1time launching low cost airline in Zimbabwe

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1time Holdings and Nu-Aero are launching Fresh Air, a low cost carrier for the Zimbabwe market, with scheduled flights expected to commence next month between Johannesburg and Victoria Falls.

Under the arrangement with Nu-Aero, 1time will halt its flights on the Livingston-Johannesburg route and fly between Johannesburg and Victoria Falls, via Harare. This route would then become a Fresh Air operation. If the route were successful, the company would be able to apply for a second route after three months of operation.
1time will supply two McDonnell Douglas MD 87s, configured with 132 and 157 seats, for the joint venture while Fresh Air will provide the licenses to operate in Zimbabwe. 1time will be allowed to operate aircraft on the South Africa register for a short period while it transitions to a Zimbabwean registered and crewed operation.

On Friday Fresh Air and 1time completed the Civil Aviation Authority regulatory demonstration flight from Johannesburg to Harare. The 1time aircraft then proceeded to Victoria Falls where it made a stop-over before returning to Johannesburg.
1Time Holdings chief executive and deputy chairman of the Fresh Air board Blacky Komani, said that, “Our partnership with Fresh Air is simple; we share our experience and infrastructure in the aviation industry while Fresh Air launches Zimbabwe’s first low-cost carrier, with licences to operate the underserviced domestic market and various regional routes to be announced in the near future. In doing so, Fresh Air are creating jobs and building a foundation for a sustainable business.”

Chakanyuka Karase, CEO of Fresh Air, said that, “The entry of a low-cost carrier in Zimbabwe has great potential, and we are proud to have launched into this partnership with 1time, who already has palpable successes in the no-frills market. We have absolutely no doubt that this business model will succeed as it is exactly what our emerging economy needs to maintain sustainability, and is an efficient way to connect families, businesses and tourist destinations.”
“Our business model is driven by a commitment to providing adequate, accessible and affordable air transport services to all,” Fresh Air board chairman Professor Chakanyuka Karase was quoted by Zimbabwe’s Herald as saying.

Zimbabwe’s Transport, Communication and Infrastructural Development permanent secretary Munesu Munodawafa on Friday said that the launch of Fresh Air “is a demonstration that as government we have opened up the airways to deserving indigenous entities that seek to complement national efforts to effectively service business generally and promote the tourism sector and travelling public in particular.”

South African airlines are facing increasingly tough conditions domestically, as demand softens and operating costs increase dramatically – airport fees have gone up and the high oil price is weighing heavily on profits. In April this year 1time said its loss widened to R157 million in the year through December from R11.1 million a year earlier, mainly due to the congested local market.

However, the market is opening up in Zimbabwe following the decline of Air Zimbabwe, and more foreign carriers are flying into the country, such as Air Namibia and Emirates.