Air Tanzania ups stake for East African skies

Air Tanzania.

An Air Tanzania plane. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Air Tanzania is set to step up competition in the East African skies with the launch of flights on the Dar es Salaam-Nairobi route from November 26, and plans for Bujumbura later in the month.

The airline’s first flight to Nairobi from Julius Nyerere International Airport will cost Sh37,525 ($334) for a return trip and approximately Sh23, 594 ($210) one way.

The Tanzanian national carrier began operating three flights a week to Ndola in Zambia and the eastern DR Congo city of Lubumbashi, respectively, from November 18.

The Dar–Nairobi route will also offer competitive pricing for Ugandan flyers who have previously been connecting to various capitals through Nairobi, Addis Ababa or Kigali on Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines or RwandaAir respectively.

“The resumption of Air Tanzania operations between Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, as at the best as a game changer in the bilateral engagement between Tanzania and Kenya,” said the High Commissioner of United Republic of Tanzania in Nairobi John Stephen Simbachawene Friday.

The carrier will fly twice a day between Dar and Nairobi with an Airbus A220-300. The plane can carry up to 132 passengers on full capacity.

The morning flight will leave the Tanzanian coastal city at 5:50am to arrive in Nairobi at 6:45am. The second flight departs the Kenyan capital at 7:30am to arrive in Dar at 9am.

The evening flight will see the airline depart Julius Nyerere International Airport at 8pm to arrive in Nairobi at 9pm. The flight will then leave Jomo Kenyatta International Airport  at 10pm to arrive in Tanzania at 10:45pm.

The launch of operations by Air Tanzania on the Dar-Nairobi route is set to fuel pressure on Kenya Airways that is currently among the main players in the route.

Kenya Airways (KQ) has at least four daily flights to Dar es Salaam, five to Entebbe, four to Lusaka and at least one daily flight to Livingstone (Zambia). KQ also flies to two other cities in Zambia.

KQ is already facing strong headwinds on its African and Asian routes as the average ticket has declined due to competition.

The entry of Air Tanzania to its routes at lower prices is bound to set off price wars between the carriers.

KQ has previously stated that “this downward trend in fare is the result of increased competition and overcapacity on intra-Africa and Africa-Asia traffic.

Increased capacity by its competitors has already taken a chunk of the carrier’s revenue.

The recent acquisition of planes by Uganda and Tanzania as well as the signing of a partnership between Ethiopian Airlines and the Zambian government to revive the national airline for Zambia is only making the skies bumpier for the airline currently struggling to return to profitability.

Air Tanzania currently operates 12 domestic routes, namely Zanzibar, Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Mwanza, Geita, Bukoba, Kigoma, Mpanda, Mbeya, Tabora, Dodoma, and Songea.

On the international routes, the airline flies to Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Comoros in the continent, and Mumbai, India, and Guangzhou, China.

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