18 January 2013

Tanzania: Dons See Loss As BA Closes Shop

AFTER about four decades of service to Tanzania, British Airways have decided to close shop in the country for what has been described as failure to operate profitably.

The airline, which once traded and operated as British Overseas Airways Corporation, BOAC, from 1939 to 1946, has announced that it is suspending its service from London's Heathrow Airport to Dar es Salaam after March 31.Several stakeholders and economic analysts interviewed in Dar es Salaam have said that the move will likely lead to a loss of revenue and other social benefits.

A statement issued during the week states that BA flights which were operating three times a week are being suspended because they don't make a profitable contribution to business. "Dar es Salaam was not performing well from a commercial perspective so we have taken the decision to suspend the route," a statement issued by the airline in Dar es Salaam stressed.

According to the statement, customers booked to fly with British Airways after March 31 will be offered a full refund or be re‐booked onto flights to or from Nairobi, Entebbe or Lusaka.Swissport Tanzania Limited Chief Executive Officer Gaudence Temu said in the city yesterday that his company will suffer from the airline's decision to suspend the business in the country because they have been providing cargo handling services since 1985 when the firm was incorporated.

"We will definitely lose considerable revenues not only for the nation but also for Swissport (T) Limited that has been handling all BA cargoes for years ago," remarked Mr Temu.Mr Temu, who is also Chairman of the Tourism Confederation of Tanzania, pointed out that the United Kingdom is one of the biggest tourist markets for the country and the suspension of the flights directly to and from the country would affect the flow of tourists and hence the badly needed revenue from the sub-sector.

He added that BA was the only flight with direct flights to Heathrow and the suspension of its service to Tanzania will therefore cause unnecessary inconvenience to travellers, especially tourists.As a long trading partner with UK, Mr Temu said most businesses in the country will be affected because of the change of routes via other countries which may lead to increased costs.

Furthermore, the government will be denied important revenues which were being mobilized as navigation and landing fees, fuel and food for the passengers.A senior lecturer from the Open University of Tanzania, Dr Hildebrand Shayo, said the suspension of the BA flights will impact negatively into the economy, employment benefits of all the people who were providing various services to the company.

The company had nine staff based in Dar es Salaam who will be affected by the move to halt business with Tanzania.He said changing the route to the UK through Nairobi, Kenya will cause inconveniences to most passengers who have been enjoying direct flights.

The suspension of the BA services in country will also affect a number of projects and communities which were benefiting from the company's operations.Dr Honest Ngowi from Mzumbe University said the suspension of the BA businesses in the country is a positive result of increased competitions in the sky that will definitely make consumers' menu with more choices with affordable fair prices.

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