LONDON-listed low-cost airline Fastjet has signed an option agreement to purchase the provisionally liquidated domestic airline 1time, a deal that will give it access to the domestic and regional market.

If the deal gets all the necessary approvals, 1time will be rebranded as Fastjet, which will initially operate on domestic routes serving the cities of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and East London. However, because negotiations took longer than anticipated, the airline will only take to the skies early in the new year.

In terms of the agreement announced on Wednesday, Fastjet will buy the entire issued share capital of 1time from its parent company, 1time Holdings Limited, for R1.

The agreement is subject to the deal obtaining regulatory approval in the UK and South Africa, as well as approval by Fastjet’s largest shareholder, Lonrho, and 1time Holdings’ shareholders. It will also require that 1time enters into a scheme of arrangement with its creditors.

The deal will give Fastjet the right to operate domestic and regional air services in South Africa. It will take over up to three of the 12 aircraft that were in the 1time fleet when the business went into provisional liquidation, but will enter into new operating lease agreements for the aircraft.

Fastjet CEO Ed Winter said the acquisition of 1time "supports Fastjet’s growth into a pan-African low-cost carrier and the synergies with Fastjet’s existing operations will potentially increase the number of available route networks from South Africa into the rest of Africa.

"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."

Mr Winter said he was pleased "we have managed to reach a provisional agreement with all parties to buy 1time. Due to protracted negotiations, we will not have 1time flying before Christmas, but very much hope that 1time will be flying again early in the new year.

"Flights will initially be operated by a number of aircraft from the 1time fleet, including McDonnell Douglas MD-82s, MD-83s and MD-87s. In due course, we plan to refleet with modern Airbus A319 aircraft," he said.