Dar es Salaam — President John Magufuli yesterday revealed three reasons why his government is reviving Air-Tanzania (ATCL).
Dr Magufuli was speaking at Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) prior to the arrival of a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner bought by the government for the national carrier.
He said the decision to revive the national flag carrier was informed by the need to boost Tanzania's reputation.
"It's shameful for a country rich in natural resources like Tanzania not to have commercial aircraft of its own. We wanted to do away with this shame," he said.
The second reason, Dr Magufuli said, was to bring ATCL closer to Tanzanians.
"Before bringing the Bombardier-Q400, it was very expensive to fly to destinations like Bukoba... One needed at least Sh1 million as return fare (from Dar) to Bukoba. But, with ATCL's Bombardier, it now costs a maximum Sh400,000," the president noted.
Among the leaders who attended the event were Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, Chief Secretary John Kijazi, Finance minister Philip Mpango and Works, Transport and Communications minister Isack Kamwelwe.
The government has already handed four aircraft to the state-owned ATCL - and is to deliver two CS300 jetliners from the Canada-based Bombardier Aerospace this November. Another Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner will be delivered in 2020.
Revealing that the third reason for reviving ATCL is to boost Tanzanian tourism, Dr Magufuli said Tanzania hosted only 1.3 million tourists last year, despite having a wealth of tourist attractions.
"We did an analysis and established that countries owning airliners also receive the highest numbers of tourists," the president stated, citing as examples Morocco (12 million tourist arrivals annually), South Africa (10.2 million) and Egypt (10.1 million) "We're hopeful that the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner will boost the number of tourist arrivals in Tanzania... The coming of another Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner in 2020 will improve the situation further," Dr Magufuli stated.
ATCL data show that, since the government delivered the Bombardier Q400s to it, its domestic market-share has risen from 2.5 per cent to 24 per cent.
The company now flies to 12 Tanzanian destinations, up from three two-and-a-half years ago. Also, ATCL currently transports over 21,000 passengers monthly, up from only 4,700 in the past.
President Magufuli commended ATCL's management for these achievements - but warned it against complacency.
"I congratulate you for the achievements already made; but continue growing so that you can become a force to reckon with regionally and internationally in the aviation stakes... " he said.