Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

19 March 2014

Tanzania: Local Airline Business in Frame of Stiff Competition

TANZANIA'S airline business is drastically growing following aggressive efforts made by airline dons all targeting aviation market.

Referring to Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority's data, passengers' traffic in the country grew from 2,246,211 in 2004/2005 to 3,268,773 in 2007/2008 which is equated to 45.5 per cent growth.

The country is on the list of "52 places to Go in 2014" by New York Times, but for too long, her people have been hesitant about flight travel considering this is for those economically well off.

The myth is slowly fading following high expression of interest by aviation operators to establish their base in Tanzania. A week ago, media was bombarded with information about Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) acquiring new 50 seats Canadian CRJ 200 Jet and promising to acquire two others in April.

In no more time after ATCL announced to receive a jet, Malawi Airline also announced its direct flights from Dar es Salaam to its capital city Lilongwe. In the same series, airline company Auric Air Services, is in its routes expansion drive to regions that were less served by flight for so long like Songea, Mpanda, Katavi and Mpanda.

According to Tanzania Air Operators' Association website, more than 11 air operators in Tanzania namely (these are only members of an association) Air Excel, Coastal Travel Limited, Desert Locust Control E.A, Flightlink limited, General Aviation services, Northern Air, Tanzania Air services Limited, Tropical Air limited, Zan Air Limited and Zantas Air services.

For sure these are adding flavour in an airline business competition. The competition should be viewed in more positive way since it will act as a stepping stone towards making travelling by flight not as pricey as it is now. Increase of airline companies in the country means creation of employment to young Tanzanians who are tirelessly fighting to get their bread and butter, but in vain.

Unemployment is becoming a chronic illness in not only Tanzania but also in the entire world. For example international media reported a saga of 7 young people who passed away in Nigeria while waiting for a job interview. The competition in airline is also viewed in its continuing trend of "head hunting" of employees among airline companies.

Head hunting is a type of recruitment method of finding executives to take over vacancies in a corporation by any means of cost and is especially done to those with vast experience. The trend is roaming in the industry as Fly SAX a newly established airline in the country and Kenya's premier safari and Private charter airline recruited a former Fast jet's Director of industry Affairs for Tanzania Mr Brown Francis as its General Manager.

Fast jet on their side appointed Jimmy Kibati, who spent over 10 years with Kenya Airways, its new general manager as well. These happenings send a clear message to all aviation industry's partakers that, business muscles are now most applied than ever.

While this is happening, Precision Air which happened to dominate the business during the "partial death" of ATCL is still struggling harder and harder to come out of austerity. The Managing Director and CEO of Precision Air has been quoted in "Paa Tanzania Magazine" as saying:

"I wish to assure the public that you will have every reason to once more trust and feel proud of your airline. I am already seeing signs that we are getting back on track." Dar es Salaam, ranked 8th among livable cities in Africa and 2nd in East Africa behind Nairobi, that ranks 3 in Africa and 1st in East Africa respectively (according to Africa.com) is the town that is focused with all these sharpen arrows of airliners.

There is clear conviction that more aircraft companies will keep flowing to Tanzania given the discoveries of oil and gas, the business which is now watched at closest distance by many business mongers here at home and abroad. Also abundant of tourism attractions in Tanzania like the highest mountain in Africa and world heritage site, Serengeti makes airliner influx in the country unstoppable.

The question to pose here, is how far ATCL is prepared to penetrate in this market which is rapidly growing with lots of challenges? Captain Milton Lazaro, the ATCL Acting Chief Executive Officer said: "The future of the national flag carrier is bright as it has come up with a workable expansion strategy whose implementation has started."

He added that: "With the expansion of our fleet, our guests will enjoy daily flights from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza. We will be going to Mbeya four times a week and to Moroni in Comoros. We also intend to open up Tabora-Mpanda route soon," he said.

However, Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority, as a mandated regulator in terms of safety, security and economic oversight is itself set to take necessary measures on 6 areas in regard to stakeholders and customers.

In its five year (2009/2014) strategic plan the authority is determined to ensure among others, having enough flight safety, security and economic inspectors to meet industry demands timely, development of sub-sector capacity to engage in public- private partnerships, development of air cargo business and promoting effective competition and economic efficiency.

The authority also affirmed that in order to make Tanzania an air transport hub, the country need strong airlines and adequate airports and air navigation infrastructure. Ministry of Transport should ensure its airports plan drive yields fruit sooner than later.

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