Dar es Salaam — The battle for Tanzanian skies is on as domestic airlines slash fares and resort to other promotional gimmicks in a wave of growing competition.
This comes in the wake of reports that Air Tanzania Company Limited's market share in domestic aviation has shot to about 20 per cent from 2.5 per cent in October 2016 when it earnestly embarked on the recovery path.
Fastjet's market share was about 42 per cent in the first quarter of the current calendar year, while PrecisionAir commanded 30 to 40 per cent of the market.
With the arrival of ATCL's Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, PrecisionAir and Fastjet are also taking measures to hold on to the market.
While ATCL and PrecisionAir launched fare cuts for travellers between Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Mwanza, Fastjet has offered free entertainment onboard - and increased carryon baggage allowance from five to 23 kilogrammes per passenger.
ATCL announced fare cuts on its Dar-Kilimanjaro-Mwanza and Dar-Mwanza routes effective July 29, on the back of pressing into service its newly-acquired Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. Under the offer - which ends on August 28 - the one-way Dar es Salaam and Mwanza Economy-class fare was reduced from Sh201,000 to Sh113,000. Likewise, the Dar-Kilimanjaro Economy fare was cut from Sh197,000 to Sh98,000.
For its part, PrecisionAir reduced the one-way Economy class fare for its Dar-Kilimanjaro route from Sh230,000 to Sh150,000 beginning from July 13 to December 31 this year.
PrecisionAir's corporate affairs manager, Mr Hilary Mremi, said the fares slashing was meant to make more people fly PrecisionAir as a matter of course.
"We're not competing with Air Tanzania; we just want to make it easy for more people to resort to air transport. If you look at Mwanza and Mbeya, more people are using air transport than in Kilimanjaro where a majority of travellers use road transport. We want to lift them up," the PrecisionAir manager said.
Perhaps not surprising, the low-cost carrier Fastjet yesterday announced offers of free refreshments onboard, and free baggage allowance of up to 23 kilogrammes per traveller, starting with tickets that were purchased from August 6, 2018.
Previously, passengers had to pay for drinks and other refreshments consumed onboard, while the baggage allowance was limited to a maximum of five kilogrammes.
"We have listened to our customers after conducting a research over several months to assess what exactly they want in this market," said the company's chief executive officer, Mr Nico Bezuidenhout.
"Fastjet will continue serving our customers by giving them value for their money - (but) at affordable cost," he added in a statement emailed to its travellers.