Jet Afrique Airline Outlines Ambitions Ahead of Launch
Ahead of the second edition of AviaDev coming up in Kigali Rwanda in October, 2017, AviaDev (AD) team spoke with Mr Hassan Zakari (HZ), Chief Commercial Officer of Jet Afrique about this exciting new carrier.
AD: Please tell us some more about the vision for Jet Afrique. What model will the airline follow and what equipment will you be using?
HZ: First let me say that Jet Afrique Airline is a new Afrocentric Airline initiative to provide an enhanced and superior air transport services operating domestic, regional and niche international flights out of Nigeria. Our vision is to be the preferred domestic and regional carrier in Nigeria and in West and Central Africa by the end of 2020, and the predominant, most reliable and efficient regional airline in sub Saharan Africa by 2025.
We intend to adapt the Hybrid model in Airline management because it has successively been proven more successful and will be a novelty in our markets from the Nigerian point of Departure. We intend to adapt the posture of the most successful airlines in the hybrid category like Pegasus in Turkey. This initiative is very justifiable as there has never been Hybrid in West Africa but there have been attempts in thinner markets in South Africa, Tanzania, Morocco and even in Kenya. Nigeria is the biggest market in all of Africa as well as the biggest economy and a perfect environment for the model.
In our opinion, Africa is not yet ripe for the LCC model due lack of infrastructures, lack of open skies, cultural and behavioral patterns etc. The Hybrid Model will help us benefit from the two worlds given our unique West African and Nigerian markets.
The Hybrid model performs very well even in economic recession when business and leisure travelers value scale on expenses on air travel. Research has shown that passengers choosing low cost do so because of the fares, which is affordable with no frills hence liberating them from paying for services that they don’t want and thereby offering savings to them. Passengers settling for full service do so because of additional products and service Network or Legacy airlines provide. The Hybrid model combines features of the Low Cost and Legacy/Network carriers thereby offering passengers average fares and opportunity to choose what they pay for.
Fleet commonality is a very important key to success in the hybrid model – in our case, the Embraer is our aircraft of choice for domestic/regional operations. We can do Boeings for select niche market long haul flights. This gives greater flexibility to deployment of crew.
AD: Can you explain the ownership structure?
The airline is privately owned. Shareholders comprises of promoters, select local investors, foreign investors and the Nigerian public. To explain clearer, the Promoters and select investors will hold 51%, Foreign investors will hold 29% while 20% will be reserved for public offering. The airline is a start-up and this means that the above structure is subject to change as the company grows in the next few years.
AD: When do you plan to commence operations and which routes are you planning on operating?
HZ: We intend to commence operations in the last quarter of this year 2017 if there are no hitches to our plan. We will base our business strategies on achieving high and profitable load factors through absorption of unmet demand in three key air traffic routes:
Un-served and under-served routes on which high unmet demand currently exists or can be readily developed. Example: Enugu-Cotonou, Douala-Sao Tome, Luanda, Libreville, Malabo, Kinshasa, Bamako, Ouagadougou etc.
Serving key niche markets where demand is either unmet or poorly served. Cotonou, Abidjan, Conakry, Dakar, Banjul, Monrovia, Freetown, Niamey, Ndjamena etc
Certain key regional, seasonal, and variable routes where very high load factors can be predicted despite existing but lower-quality competition, or where competition cannot meet the demand. Brazzaville, Agadez, Port Gentile, Pointe-Noire, Cabinda, Kumasi, Khartoum etc
Roll-out of these routes will be according to market dictates and in phases as we commence operations.
AD: What makes you feel you can succeed where others have failed?
HZ: In life, the route to success or failure is a choice. Our choice of route is SUCCESS! As you rightly said, some have failed in this market but many have also succeeded in it. If the African aviation story has a portion of success then we can assure you that we will be part of that success story. We have a strong management team with a wealth of experience over 35 years in the industry and we know where the failed airlines went wrong and why it is our intention to determinedly avoid those paths.
Furthermore, our business model is designed with rules against failure and strict adherence to those rules will assist us achieve a profitable, sustainable and successful airline. Deploying the right equipment, adopting a lean and fit posture in the costing of our proposed operations is a realistic and functional way to ensure success. In your previous interview with our most respected African aviation veteran, Girma Wake, he enumerated the keys to the success of Ethiopian Airlines and we couldn’t agree more so we have nothing more to say!
AviaDev is dedicated to advancing Africa's connectivity and we aim to be the catalyst for better, higher frequency and more affordable air transport that will stimulate the continent's development.
If you would like to meet them in person, register now at www.aviationdevelop.com. See you in October!