Air Tanzania Company Ltd has confirmed that it will on Saturday receive a new Dreamliner as part of its fleet improvement programme.
The new Dreamliner (Boeing 787-8 model 5H-TCJ) christened ‘Rubondo Island’ is scheduled to touch down at Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) Terminal 1 in Dar es Salaam at 11.00am (0800GMT).
The jet embellished ‘Hapa Kazi Tu’—President John Magufuli’s motto—on the on the sides will be welcomed with traditional water salute.
The aircraft was reported to have completed its final taxi test at the Boeing airfield in Seattle, Washington, USA on October 12, after images were circulated online.
ATCL has also confirmed plans to add at least two more Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 planes to its growing fleet.
“We look forward to the additional capacity that this new aircraft, and another Dash-8 Q400 that is scheduled for delivery soon, will provide,” said ATCL’s CEO Ladislaus Matindi.
De Havilland Canada, the new owners of the Q400 aircraft programme previously run by fellow Canadian company Bombardier, on Monday announced its first firm purchase order since taking over the programme; one plane to be bought by the Tanzanian Government Flight Agency (TGFA) on behalf of Air Tanzania (ATCL).
The state-owned carrier continues an ambitious, state-backed revival programme aimed at making it one of the continent’s biggest airlines by 2025.
The addition of three more planes will expand ATCL’s fleet to nine aircraft, comprising two Dreamliners, two Airbus A220-300 models, and five Dash-8 Q400s for domestic flights.
The airline currently operates on 10 domestic routes and provides regular flights to Harare (Zimbabwe), Bujumbura (Burundi), Entebbe (Uganda), and Moroni (Comoro Islands).
Flights to Johannesburg, South Africa were suspended in early October with ‘security concerns’ cited as the reason.
De Havilland, which acquired the Q400 programme from Bombardier in June this year, said it had negotiated the deal with TGFA which is overseeing the entire ATCL revival mission under direct instructions from President Magufuli.
The plane to be delivered to TGFA will be leased out to and operated by Air Tanzania on behalf of the government.
ATCL already has three Dash 8-400 aircraft in service and another in line for delivery before the end of this year.
The latest plane will be delivered by De Havilland in a 78-seat, dual-lavatory configuration, the Canadian manufacturers said.
Mr Matindi also said that ATCL was “very satisfied with the Dash 8-400 aircraft’s low operating costs and reliable operations in our high-utilisation environment.”
“The after-sales support that we have been receiving from the manufacturers has also been excellent and we are happy to reinforce our commitment to this aircraft,” he added.
De Havilland chief operating officer Todd Young said the deal signalled ATCL’s “confidence in the future of our aircraft programme.”
The expansion of the state-carrier is part of Magufuli administration’s priorities since he took office in 2015.
Aside from reviving the flag carrier, the government has also embarked on building new airports and modernising and expanding the existing ones across the country with the aim of boosting tourism, trade and investment.
In August, President Magufuli inaugurated a new state-of-the-art terminal at JNIA which is expected to serve up to six million passengers per year.
According to official Tanzania Airports Authority (TAA) records, the country currently has more than 60 airports and at least 300 private airstrips.
By The Eastafrica