Emirates, the world's largest airline, has confirmed it is in talks with Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou's low-cost African airline Fastjet for a possible partnership.
Fastjet chief executive officer Ed Winter said in a statement on Wednesday: "Talks are at an early stage, but this represents a great opportunity for both parties.
“Emirates currently flies to 24 destinations in Africa, while Fastjet launched its operations in Tanzania last month and plans to become a pan African carrier. A partnership would benefit both Fastjet and Emirates with greater passenger traffic, and would give travellers in Africa the opportunity to connect to the rest of the world through Emirates' Dubai hub with Fastjet providing passengers from African cities."
Jean-Luc Grillet, Emirates senior vice president in charge of commercial operations for Africa, added: “We are willing to work with Fastjet. It is an independent carrier and that makes our work easy.”
The news comes hot on the heels of Fastjet's confirmation that it was in negotiations with the management, directors and provisional liquidator of 1time, a South Africa low cost airline that ceased trading last month.
Fastjet only launched in November 2012, but has a strong team behind it, including a partnership with Swissport for ground operations.
Sir Stelios’s easyGroup Holdings owns 5% of FastJet and has the option to acquire another 10% at a price of 5.2p per share until 2 August 2014. Sir Stelios is also a director of the airline.
The negotiations, which have not yet concluded, and are subject to Board, parent company, and Regulatory approval, would allow fastjet to purchase 1time Airline from its parent company, 1time Holdings.
The proposed transaction would involve fastjet paying a nominal fee for the purchase of 1time Airline and reaching a settlement with the 1time creditors.
Winter said in a press release: “If this transaction goes ahead and the timescales are extremely challenging - we would hope to get 1time flying again in time for the Christmas holiday period, when many customers have had their plans dashed by the cessation of 1time services...
“We are working with the South African authorities who, like us, are completely committed to helping the airline industry in South Africa develop for the benefit of all the people. Lower fares mean more economic growth, more jobs and more prosperity and we hope to keep many of the original 1time staff employed.
"With the co-operation of the shareholders of 1time we can build an airline that will provide a real choice to South Africans, based on the great reputation of 1time and the low cost experience of Fastjet.”