Stelios' African airline prepares for launch with Lonrho acquisition

Stelios Haji-Ioannou's plans to launch a new budget airline for Africa moved a step closed this morning after conglomerate Lonrho announced the sale of its aviation business.

British investment firm Rubicon has bought the unit for £55.1m and will now make plans to launch a carrier named 'FastJet' with Stelios.

As part of the deal easyJet-founder easyGroup will own five per cent of Rubicon.

"Under a licensing agreement with easyGroup, the airline will be branded FastJet and will use modern jet aircraft and operate to European standards," Lonrho said in a statement.

The airline already has operational hubs in East, West and South West Africa and strategic hubs in Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana and Angola

David Lenigas, executive chairman of Lonrho commented: "I am delighted that Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and easyGroup have studied this market and concluded that the Lonrho aviation division provides a unique entry platform for the development of a true low cost carrier for Africa, to be branded FastJet."

"The combination of Lonrho's experience in Africa; the aviation experience of Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and easyGroup; the route network and operations already established by Lonrho Aviation across Africa and Rubicon's cash resources will enable Fastjet to quickly develop its low cost airline."