Dar es Salaam — Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) will deploy the newly delivered Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner on its Dar es Salaam-Kilimanjaro route as it finalises preparations to launch international flights.
"The Dreamliner is expected to start flying locally three weeks from now. It will start flying between Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro before we start flying to India. We're also preparing to capture other markets, like China," ATCL managing director Ladislaus Matindi said at the Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair (DITF) on Wednesday 11 July.
This comes at a time when some analysts are of the view that the country was injecting trillions of much-needed taxpayer money into purchasing costly aircraft to revive ATCL without having a comprehensive business plan.
ATCL floated a tender in July 2017 inviting bids to prepare a "Comprehensive Five-Year Business Plan" within 30 days.
Mr Matindi was quoted saying in July last year that ATCL was at that time operating using an interim business plan.
A year later, Mr Matindi said at the DITF grounds that the airline had four-newly purchased aircraft and plans to open five new domestic routes in the next two years.
Currently, ATCL operates on ten routes across Tanzania and to the Comoros.
Receiving the first of two 262-seater Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners to be operated by ATCL, President John Magufuli last Sunday revealed three reasons why his government decided to inject trillions of taxpayer funds into reviving the national flag carrier.
Revealing that the decision to revive ATCL was informed by the need to boost Tanzania's reputation, Dr Magufuli said "it was shameful for a country that's rich in natural resources to have no aircraft of its own. We wanted to do away with this shame!" The second reason was to ensure that it brings ATCL closer to Tanzanians.
"Before we had brought the Bombardier Q400, it was expensive to travel by air to destinations like Bukoba... .One needed at least Sh1 million for return ticket to Bukoba... but with ATCL's Bombardier, it now costs a maximum of Sh400,000," Dr Magufuli shortly before the aircraft touched Tanzania's soil.
The third reason for reviving ATCL, the President said, was to boost Tanzanian tourism.
Last year, he said, Tanzania received only 1.3 million tourists despite having numerous attractions.
"We did an analysis, and established that countries with their own successful airlines receive the highest number of tourists," said Dr Magufuli, giving examples of Egypt, Morocco and South Africa which annually receive 10.1 million, 12 million and 10.2 million tourists respectively.