Former easyJet chief pilot and operations head Bob Bishton is joining new African budget carrier FastJet as operation director.

EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou is backing plans for the first pan-African low cost airline which is due to be launched next month.

Bishton, who was previously flight operations director at Astraeus, is joined by former Ryanair chief instructor and head of training Harun Cordan, who becomes group chief pilot and head of flight operations.

Kyle Haywood, former chief executive of Air Uganda, joins FastJet as general manager of Africa.

The appointments come as the start-up signed lease deals for two Airbus A319s for delivery in November. They join an existing leased aircraft as the carrier aims to deploy five A319s in Africa within six months of launch and up to 15 aircraft in a years’ time.

FastJet also agreed a ground handling deal with Swissport International and awarded a five-year contract to Sabena technics to provide maintenance support for the airline’s fleet of A319s.

FastJet chief executive Ed Winter said: “Signing two further aircraft to our fleet and securing delivery in November puts us firmly on track to launch Fastjet next month at our first base in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

“I am also delighted to be welcoming three top aviation executives to the FastJet team. Between them they bring over 50 years of operational experience from across the sector and they are important strategic hires for us ahead of launch and our inaugural flight in just a few weeks.”