Looking to attract South African tourists and other business travellers, the state-owned Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) is set to revive its passenger schedule route connecting four major airports in Tanzania with the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg this Friday.
The four direct flights per week will be launched by ATCL’s recently-acquired Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner jet which has a capacity to carry 262 passengers.
Four local airports in Tanzania will be directly connected to O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
These are the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) in the commercial capital of Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar International Airport, Kilimanjaro International Airport in northern Tanzania, and Mwanza International Airport on Lake Victoria.
The newly acquired Dreamliner plane will be replaced by an Airbus A220-300 on the Johannesburg route from July 16, the airline’s report said. The direct flights to and from Johannesburg will be on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. ATCL also plans to launch long-haul flights to India and China this year.
South Africa is one of the top profit-making routes for most airlines in the southern and eastern African region. South Africa’s airports are the main linking points to destinations in Australia and the Pacific Ocean rim which are seen as upcoming new tourist markets for Tanzania and other East African states.
The Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) has been working jointly with ATCL to market both tourism and business destinations. South Africa itself is a source market for about 48,000 tourists to Tanzania per year, mostly adventure and business travellers.
Latest official figures show that about 16,000 tourists from Australia visited Tanzania in 2017, mostly through air connections in Johannesburg.
Also in 2017, New Zealand was a source of 3,300 visitors to Tanzania while the Pacific Rim (Fiji, Solomon Islands, Samoa and Papua New Guinea) brought in about 2,600 visitors.
ATCL is expected to face stiff competition for the South African route from the likes of Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates, Turkish Airlines and RwandAir, all of which already operate regular flights between Dar es Salaam and Johannesburg with ticket prices ranging from $296 to $341 for economy class seats.
ATCL was established as Air Tanzania Corporation (ATC) in September 1977 after the collapse of the regional East African Airways (EAA). Up to as recently as three years ago, the airline was operating at a loss, propped up only by government subsidies.
Under a comprehensive revival program, ATCL now has a fleet of eight aircraft, including three Bombardier Q400s, two Airbus A200-300s, one Fokker50, one Fokker28, and one Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.
During its hard past times, ATCL lost virtually all its international routes which were captured by rival regional and global air carriers. Among the most profitable routes surrendered by ATCL were Nairobi, Johannesburg, Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Milan, Frankfurt, London, Victoria (Seychelles), and Mumbai.