by Ben Taylor

President Magufuli with Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa and other dignataries – photo State House

“Dreamliner” lands with Air Tanzania
A much-anticipated Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner aircraft arrived in Tanzania in July, and moved swiftly into operation on domestic routes for Air Tanzania. It is expected to begin international routes – to Mumbai in India, Bangkok in Thailand and Ghuanzhou in China – from September, once pilots and cabin crew have gained experience with the new aircraft.
The Dreamliner is the fourth and largest plane to be bought by the government since the 2015 election of President Magufuli. Plans are underway to purchase three others to make the total of seven planes aimed at reviving Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) that had only one plane previously with a capacity of carrying 51 passengers. Three further aircraft are to be delivered, including two mid-sized planes later this year and a second Dreamliner in 2020.

At list prices, the new plane is valued at US$225 million. It has a seating capacity of 262 passengers. Three previous planes purchased for use by Air Tanzania were 76-seater Bombardier Q400 planes worth US$32 million each.

The plane is branded with the “Hapa Kazi Tu” slogan that President Magufuli adopted as his main campaign slogan in 2015. Speaking at Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) prior to the arrival of the plane, the President explained why his government had decided to revive the national airline.

“It’s shameful for a country rich in natural resources like Tanzania not to have commercial aircraft of its own. We wanted to do away with this shame,” he said. “Before bringing the Bombardier-Q400,” he noted, “it was very expensive to fly to destinations like Bukoba. One needed at least TSh 1 million as return fare (from Dar) to Bukoba. But, with ATCL’s Bombardier, it now costs a maximum TSh 400,000.”

The President added that a third reason for reviving ATCL is to boost Tanzanian tourism. “We did an analysis and established that countries owning airliners also receive the highest numbers of tourists,” the president stated, citing as examples Morocco, South Africa and Egypt, each with over 10 million tourist arrivals annually. “We’re hopeful that the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner will boost the number of tourist arrivals in Tanzania,” he stated.

Etihad suspends flights to Tanzania

Etihad Airways – the national airline of the United Arab Emirates – has confirmed suspension of flights between Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Abu Dhabi. This move, which is part of an ongoing strategic review that involves scrapping unprofitable routes, will come into effect on October 1, 2018. After this date, travellers from Tanzania will be re-routed through Kenya Airways to Nairobi and then connected through Etihad to Abu Dhabi.

The Airline launched its first flights to Tanzania in December 2015, the airline’s third destination in East Africa after Nairobi in Kenya, and Entebbe in Uganda.

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