TURKISH Airlines has launched its maiden Istanbul- Kilimanjaro International Airport flight, marking a new era in the history of the airport, thanks to an aggressive marketing drive by the Kilimanjaro Airport Development Company (KADCO).
The airline will operate five weekly flights on the route joining other global Airlines that include Qatar Airways, KLM, Edelweiss Air, Condo Air and Ethiopian Airlines that already fly to the airport, the gateway to world famous Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater National parks.
Speaking minutes after the Turkish Airlines plane arrived at the airport, KADCO Board Chairman, Ambassador Hassan Kibelloh said the Europe direct route opened gates for other airlines also to fly to KIA, which was recently given a 30 million US dollars facelift.
"It's is my honour to welcome an airline that covers all the five continents. The coming of the airline poses positive challenges, including competition from other airlines to also fly the route. Kibelloh said the route was good for trade opportunities between Tanzania and Turkey that will also complement tourist inflows to the Northern Circuit.
"Tanzania and Turkey have different tourist attractions. We can enrich our tourism potential by ensuring that we put in place a multi-cultural mix. We are glad that Turkish Airlines will be a good link in helping us achieve that. We will do everything possible to ensure Turkish Airlines receives five-star services," he added.
The Turkish Airlines President and CEO Dr Temel Kotl said his company sees Africa as the next frontier for major business growth adding that the airline looks forward to opening seven more destinations in Africa. "We believe the future is in Africa. Our focus is to link Africa to the rest of the world. We are looking forward to opening seven more destinations in Africa," he said.
The Turkish Ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Ali Davutoglu said his country pursues a multi-dimensional policy in Africa that seeks to support various sectors, including trade, education and agriculture. "Our economic relation with Africa is steadily growing. We believe the launch of this route will no doubt lead to rapid economic development in Tanzania and as a whole.
"It's no doubt that trade between Turkey and Tanzania has steadily grown from $18m in 2004 to $193m by the end of 2011," he said. The Ministry of Transport Permanent Secretary, Mr John Mngodo called on horticulture farmers to use the airline, saying it will be a link to the Dutch market, the world's leading destination for flowers, now grown intensively in Arusha. He said the government is committed to playing a pivotal role in boosting the industry in a bid to attract more investments in the country.