Looking to attract tourists from South African and other business travellers, state-owned Air Tanzania Company Ltd (ATCL) is set to revive its passenger schedule route connecting four major airports in Tanzania with the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, starting June 28.
The four direct flights per week will use ATCL’s recently-acquired Boeing 787- 8 Dreamliner jet, which has the capacity to carry 262 passengers.
This past week, ATCL public affairs spokesman Josephat Kagirwa told The EastAfrican that the four local airports to introduce South African connections are Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar International Airport, Kilimanjaro International Airport in northern Tanzania, and Mwanza International Airport.
Mr Kagirwa said the Dreamliner will be replaced by an Airbus A220-300 on the Johannesburg route from July 16. “We expect to maintain this route as we prepare for long-haul flights to India and China,” he said.
The direct flights to and from Johannesburg will be on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. South Africa is one of the top profit-making routes for most airlines in the Southern and East African region.
Southern African airports are the main linking points to destinations in Australia and the Pacific Ocean rim that are considered upcoming new tourist markets for Tanzania and other East African states. The Tanzania Tourist Board is working jointly with ATCL to market the destinations. South Africa itself is a source market for about 48,000 tourists annually, mostly adventure and business travellers.
Latest official figures show that about 16,000 tourists from Australia visited Tanzania in 2017, mostly using connections through Johannesburg. In the same year, there were 3,300 visitors from New Zealand and 2,600 from the Pacific Rim (Fiji, Solomon, Samoa and Papua New Guinea).
Ethiopian Airlines has commenced its maiden flight from Lagos to Johannesburg with its code-share partner, Asky.
With that service, Ethiopian Airlines/Asky to South Africa has become the only non-South African airline on the route between Nigeria and South Africa. It flight was welcomed with Water Canon salute and received by staff of Asky and Ethiopian Airlines. The Airport Community also joined in the reception. The flight was operated with an Asky B737-700 commanded by Captain Dawit Muluneh. It left Lagos for Johannesburg by 16: 45 pm on Saturday.
The General Manager of Ethiopian Airlines in Nigeria, Mrs. Firihiewot Mekonnen, at the inaugural ceremony said, “Asky is the operating airline, while Ethiopia Airlines is the marketing carrier.”
“Nigeria is one of our biggest markets where we bring the best of our aircraft and we always strive to give our best to Nigerians.
“As part of this motive we found out a lot of Nigerians travel to South Africa so we decided to help improve the connectivity for the passengers.
“We have also availed many promotional fares so we invite Nigerians to use the best deals to Johannesburg,” she said.
The inaugural flight had a 70 per cent load factor. The flights are daily from Lagos to Johannesburg. Some days the flights go through Libreville on other days it will go through Douala.
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