The new destination was made possible by the recent redevelopment of Songwe Airport undertaken by the local government in collaboration with Fastjet. The airport now has an improved airfield and a runway that can accommodate an Airbus A319.
“We’ve had a huge demand from customers to add flights to Mbeya to our schedule and we have worked closely with the Tanzanian Government, the local civil aviation authority and Songwe Airport authorities to make this new route possible,” said Fastjet CEO, Ed Winter.
“We would not have been able to do this without the significant time, effort and financial investment that government authorities have made in building Songwe Airport’s infrastructure and runway to comply fully with international aviation standards,” he added.
Mbeya becomes the airline’s fifth destination after Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar. It is a densely populated city near the borders of Tanzania and its neighbours Zambia and Malawi.
Fastjet will fly from Dar es Salaam’s Julius Nyerere International Airport to Mbeya’s new Songwe Airport three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Tickets for flights to the new destination have been selling since August 2013 for Tsh 32,000 excluding fees and government taxes for one way flights.
“Seats on this new route are selling exceptionally quickly – with our first flights to and from Mbeya over 90% full – showing that Tanzanians are welcoming this new fastjet service with open arms,” said Winter. “Fastjet’s commitment to low-cost airfares means that anyone can now afford to fly to Mbeya for leisure or business, rather than having to endure long, uncomfortable journeys by road or rail.”
The airline said in a statement that it is committed to building a comprehensive national and regional network as it strives to become the first pan-African low-cost airline. The firm also said it is open to flying to any destination in Tanzania whose airstrip has the capacity to handle their A319 jet aircraft.