Tanzania will in July take delivery of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner as it seeks to support its national airline to play a bigger role in the regional aviation market dominated by Ethiopian, Kenyan and Rwandan carriers.
The government expects two new Bombardier CS300s, whose purchase agreements have been finalised.
Two years ago, Tanzania developed a programme to revitalise its national carrier — Air Tanzania. The programme included purchasing six new aircraft between 2016 and 2018, payment of debts and provision of start-up capital, improvement and modernisation of business systems.
Boeing confirmed Dar’s order for one 787-8 Dreamliner, which is valued at $224.6 million to be operated by Air Tanzania.
“I am pleased to welcome Air Tanzania as the newest member of the Dreamliner family. We are honoured that Air Tanzania has chosen the 787 to operate its long-haul operations,” said Van Rex Gallard, sales vice-president for Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean.
Air Tanzania said the Dreamliner will be its flagship aircraft as it renews and grows its fleet.
The fleet improvement programme, which The EastAfrican has seen, includes the purchasing of six aircraft. These include three Bombardier DASH8 Q400s, which it currently uses for domestic routes between Dar es Salaam and the Comoros islands, Mwanza, Kigoma and Mtwara.
The plan shows that by July this year, Air Tanzania will be operating the fleet of seven aircraft. It has been operating one Bombardier DASH8 Q300 since 2011.
“We aim to establish our long-haul capability by starting flights to Europe, Asia and the US in the short-term and the 787 Dreamliner is the perfect aircraft to achieve this ambition,” said Air Tanzania chief executive officer Ladislaus Matindi.
It is understood that Tanzania signed a firm purchase agreement with Bombardier Commercial Aircraft for the two Bombardier Q400 aircraft in July 2016 and the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner five months later.
Mr Matindi said that the Bombardier C300s would be used to open up to six regional routes in Southern and West Africa as the airline angle to capture a share of the markets.
“We are looking at South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe and in future expanding to West Africa with Ghana and Nigeria firmly on our sight. We will, however, use the Dreamliner for intercontinental routes to China and India initially, followed by Europe in a second phase.
“We are already in talks with Boeing and the government to have a second delivery of the same aircraft in the near future,” Mr Matindi aid.
Air Tanzania is also expecting to undergo International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certification before June, which will now enable it to enter into commercial partnerships with other operators as it seeks to grow its revenue via code share agreements.
The IOSA is an evaluation system designed to access the operational management and control systems of an airline putting it at par with the international aviation standards.