TANZANIA has turned its focus on direct cargo flights to Europe to stimulate business related to high-value horticulture products, frozen meat, fish fillet, sea food and other perishables.
President John Magufuli revealed the plans that the government is eyeing to exploit the opportunities in freight business.
The Head of State made the revelation yesterday when addressing scores of people gathered at Mwanza Airport to receive the new purchased aircraft Bombardier Q-400, which was recently impounded in Canada.
“To allow uptake of the business, we have constructed cold rooms at Mwanza Airport, Songwe Airport and Kilimanjaro International Airport so that meat, flowers and fillet fish can be transported abroad,” said President Magufuli.
Earlier, the Managing Director of Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL), Eng Ladislaus Matindi, informed the public of the plan; that the company management met and held discussions with the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) to strategise on ways to trade with India and China via ATCL services.
According to Eng Matindi, the discussions were held between October and December, noting that fruit and vegetable products used by the two countries mainly originate from Latin America.
“While perishable goods such as fruits and vegetables used by the two countries from Latin America take 18 to 24 hours to reach the destinations, it could take ATCL five hours to offer the same service,” noted the DG.
Besides, the President revealed discussions with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda on improvising routes which will start from Kigali to Mwanza and straight to London.
He pointed out that passengers who will arrive through the destination will not need to pass through Dar es Salaam to reach the destinations.
Dr Magufuli further revealed the intention to widen the scope of the airline business instead of just transporting passengers but venturing into procuring a cargo aircraft.
He, however, applauded the management of ATCL through its experts, for embarking on minimal and major maintenance of the Bombardier Q-400 airplanes which had helped the country to save 256,000 US dollars, which is equivalent to 590m/-.
Similarly, the company has embarked on wheel assembling of the Bombardier Q-400 planes at Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) workshop in Dar es Salaam.
He also extended recognition to the three Tanzanian pilots who flew the new plane all the way from Toronto, Canada to Mwanza, saving 90m/- which would have been spent on paying foreign pilots.
Plus, he backed the company’s strategy which aims at doing maintenance to aircraft A220-300, Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
In further improving the airline business in the country, the government has continued to rehabilitate and construct new airports in several regions in the country which includes a plan of constructing a 500bn/- airport at Msalato, Dodoma.
He earlier on disclosed that the airline business as per the World Bank 2018 report shows that 4.3billion people travelled by air.
“This is a very lucrative business for the development of any country’s economy in complementing other sectors, including trade, tourism among others. “This is why am offering members of the Chama cha Mapinduzi National Executive Council (NEC) who met here in Mwanza for the meeting to use the plane to return Dar es Salaam to taste the fruits,” he said.
Eng Matindi also noted that the plane has a capacity to carry 78 passengers; business class - 10 passengers and 68 passengers for the economy class, a slight difference from the other three Bombardier Q-400 which could only accommodate six passengers in the business class.
The DG pointed out that the arrival of the plane will help to strengthen market opportunities from the former 73 to 75 per cent.
He further hinted on the status of the Guangzhou route which is in the final stages of becoming operational in February next year.
This becomes the eighth aircraft to be purchased by President Magufuli’s administration. The aircraft include two Boeing 787-8 Dream liner, two Airbus A-220-300 and 4 Bombardiers.