THE Tanzania Airports Authority (TAA) has been challenged to adequately expand Mwanza and Kilimanjaro airports to cope with the expected increase of passengers. Deputy Minister for Transport Dr Charles Tizeba threw the challenge in Dar es Salaam at the launch of Fastjet's low cost service.
He said that with the inauguration of the low cost carrier, the number of passengers will go up tremendously, thus a need to improve facilities at the two airports.
He said at the launch of the airline's Airbus A319 at Julius Nyerere International Airport that the government expects TAA to take up the challenge seriously. "You should make sure that no passenger fails to travel because of congestion at any of the airports", he said.
He asked Fastjet to make sure that its customers are aware of the difference in services with conventional air services currently being offered by other companies. He said the government is impressed that Fastjet has chosen Julius Nyerere International Airport as its base in Africa in providing low cost domestic and regional air transport services.
Said he: "The government recognizes the need for the low cost air operations and its immense contribution of the air transport industry in the country and the overall development of the economy." He assured the investors that the government would continue with its role of policy formulation, strategic target setting, regulation, monitoring and evaluation of air transport services while business aspects in the industry are left to the private sector.
He assured the operators that the government would continue with the improvement of infrastructure to ensure that the industry operates efficiently. He said the government has attracted investment in infrastructure development and has put in place requisite environment for private sector's involvement in infrastructure development and air service provision which go hand in hand with legal and regulatory reforms.
He said the government recognizes the fact that an improved air service is critical to opening up development of its economy by strengthening competition, promoting trade, tourism and foreign direct investment apart from contributing immensely to the government revenues.
He said that following the recent launch of Mpanda airport to provide easy access to the western part of the country, the ministry is working round the clock to beat the December deadline to open the Songwe International airport in Mbeya this year.
He said Fastjet's fleet of A319 for flights between Julius Nyerere International Airport and Mwanza and Kilimanjaro and later to other regional destinations would increase the capacity of the routes and eventually support the government's efforts towards transforming Julius Nyerere International Airport into a regional aviation hub.
On his part, Fastjet Chief Executive Officer, Mr Edward Winter said they would use Dar es Salaam as the first base and would subsequently open second one in Nairobi early next year. He said Fastjet's homogenous fleet will only consist of A319 planes which are fuel efficient and environmentally friendly.
Fastjet which has acquired Fly 540 and has European based Easyjet as shareholder, aspires to become a Pan-African low cost carrier. He said three aircrafts will be flying to Mwanza and Arusha from Dar es Salaam twice each day as the company plans to revolutionize air travel in the country. The airline will also subsequently fly similar low cost planes in Angola, Ghana and Kenya, he added.