JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – African budget airline Fastjet Plc said on Thursday it had appointed the outgoing CEO of rival Mango Airlines as its chief executive, sending its shares 16 percent higher.
Nico Bezuidenhout, who joins Fastjet on Aug. 1, will be filling a position that was vacant for nearly three months after the previous CEO resigned due to pressure from the company’s second-largest shareholder.
Unlisted Mango did not immediately name a new chief executive, but said in a statement it would appoint an acting CEO after Bezuidenhout leaves his post at the end on July.
London-listed Fastjet and Mango, a unit of South African Airways (SAA), are part of a wave of low-cost airlines expanding operations in Africa as they seek to capture middle-income travellers who are tired of dangerous road journeys but cannot afford major international carriers.
The new airlines hope to undercut larger carriers by offering “no frills” services, replicating a model pioneered by European airlines like Easyjet and Ryanair.
Mango’s parent company SAA has been surviving on state-guaranteed loans, and the loss-making national carrier is in the middle of a turnaround strategy that will include cutting costs and cancelling loss-making routes.
Fastjet’s former boss Ed Winter stepped down on March 18, weeks after Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who owns a 12 percent stake in the carrier through a private investment vehicle, called a general meeting to dismiss Winter.
Fastjet launched flights between South Africa and Zimbabwe earlier this year.
(Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg in Johannesburg and Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by James Macharia)
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