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Fastjet plans Moz, SA units

Fastjet Plc will begin flying from Mozambique this year and expects to commence internal South African services in 2018 as it rekindles growth plans put on hold as losses mounted.

With the operating loss down 57% in the first half and break even forecast for the fourth quarter, Fastjet is ready to revive its pan-African ambitions, aided by a $44 million fundraising, about one-third of which will come from shareholder Solenta Aviation Holdings, it said Friday.

“The engine is starting to fire on more cylinders,” CEO Nico Bezuidenhout said by phone from Johannesburg, where the company moved its base from the UK this year in order to cut costs and be closer to key markets.

Operations in Mozambique should start in the next few months using one of three 50-seat Embraer SA ERJ145 jets that Fastjet has leased.

The carrier has meanwhile struck a branding deal with South Africa’s Fedair, which is owned by Solenta, that will boost its presence in the continent’s largest economy and pave the way for the start of its own flights there some time in 2018, according to Bezuidenhout.

Fastjet traded up 1,2% in London, extending gains this year to 31%. The stock has lost ground or barely advanced every trading year since the carrier was founded in 2012.

Under the new CEO, hired last year from the low-cost Mango arm of South African Airways, Fastjet has offloaded a fleet of six Airbus SE A319s with 145 to 156 seats and switched to smaller regional jets better matched to demand.

The last A319, based in Tanzania, will leave in December, to be replaced by two 108-seat Embraer E190s, with the two other ERJ145s based in Zimbabwe. —Bloomberg

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