Tanzania took delivery of its long-awaited Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, which landed at Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) in Dar es Salaam on Sunday (July 8).
The aircraft, named Kilimanjaro-Hapa kazi tu, recently underwent its maiden runway test flight at the Paine field in Seattle, US, according to The Citizen, and will start operating intercontinental routes to Mumbai, India, starting in September.
Delivery of the aircraft signals a significant shift in the country’s aviation sector, as the carrier, which was established in 1977, is seeking to play a larger role in the regional aviation market, which is dominated by Ethiopia, Rwanda and Kenya.
Air Tanzania was relaunched in 2007 after a five-year partnership with South African Airways was dissolved when it commenced operations from Dar es Salaam-Kilimanjaro-Mwanza. In 2016 the airline underwent a major revival, with the new government in place; Tanzania’s President John Magufuli vowed to restore the airline to its previous glory. In the 2016/2017 national budget, the government had set aside funds to purchase two Bombardier Q400 aircraft that were to be leased to Air Tanzania, and on April 2, 2018 Air Tanzania received its third and final Dash 8-400.
In December 2016, the government ordered four more aircraft, three from Bombardier and one from Boeing. The Tanzania Government Flight Agency ordered two CS300s, one Q400, and one Boeing 787 Dreamliner. All new aircraft operated by the airline are owned by the Government Flight Agency, and are leased to the airline to help recuperate the costs.
On June 20, Air Tanzania announced plans to establish its own ground handling, maintenance, repair and operations and in-flight catering units as part of its growth and restructuring plan.
Jospehat Kagirwa, Head of Corporate Communications & PR for Air Tanzania told Tourism Update that the carrier launched services between Dar es Salaam and Kigoma in 2016, and since then operated three flights a week until May 2017, when it increased frequencies to four times a week. Currently the airline is operating the route seven times a week using a Bombardier Dash8-Q400.
Kagirwa added: “Next month, in August, we are expecting to fly to Bujumbura (Burundi) via Kigoma from Dar es Salaam. By doing so, we can make a traveller connect via Kigoma.”
Air Tanzania has since confirmed it will increase frequency on a number of routes, including Kilimanjaro to twice daily from July 29, and Mbeya daily from July 12, as well as Kigoma daily from August 30.