Kampala — British Airways has reiterated its commitment to the Ugandan market thereby dispelling fears that the carrier might follow suit and exit just like the Dar route.
British Airways last week confirmed that it will stop its thrice-weekly service from London to Dar es Salaam from March 31.
"The flights are being suspended because they don't make a profitable contribution to our business," said a statement by British Airways.
The airline said customers booked to fly with British Airways after 31 March would be offered a full refund or could alternatively be re-booked onto flights to/from Nairobi, Entebbe or Lusaka.
Mr. George Mawadri, British Airways Area Commercial Manager for East and Central Africa says that the thrice weekly flights from London to Entebbe will continue.
"Uganda remains an important destination for our Africa market with flights from Entebbe to London operating thrice weekly. British Airways has been serving this route since the early 1950's. We remain fully committed to Africa and will continue to serve 18 routes in 15 countries as at March 31" Mawadri said.
In a related development, Emirates added more than 1400 seats a week on its Dar es Salaam-Dubai route with the introduction of a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft effective from February 1, 2013.
The larger aircraft replaced the Airbus 340-500, giving a 40% boost to seat capacity.
"Dar es Salaam is one of East Africa's most popular destinations and the introduction of the new Boeing 777 is a direct response to increasing passenger demand on this route," said Jean Luc Grillet, Emirates senior vice president commercial operations for Africa.
"Emirates carried 148 000 passengers on flights to and from Dar es Salaam in 2012. With the new Boeing 777 service we expect this to noticeably grow as our customers continue to explore the opportunities Emirates' global network has to offer, continued Grillet.
In addition to carrying more passengers, using the new aircraft will also have a positive impact on Tanzania's import and export industry. Emirates SkyCargo, using the Airbus 340-500, had a belly-hold capacity of 30 tonnes in both directions. The Boeing 777-300ER has a capacity of up to 46 tonnes, which means businesses will benefit from an additional 112 tons of weekly capacity on the route.
Emirates established operations in Tanzania in 1997 and flies daily from Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) in Dar es Salaam to Dubai, connecting passengers to 117 destinations in 74 countries across six continents.