By Apolinari Tairo
Published April 1, 2013
After almost four decades of flight services to Tanzania, British Airways (BA) pulled its flight services between London and Dar es Salaam on March 31, 2013 for what has been described as failure to operate profitably.
BA, among the long-serving, European-registered airlines to Tanzania, closed its business in Tanzania on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013. Several stakeholders and economic analysts interviewed in Dar-es-Salaam have said the move will likely lead to a loss of revenue and other social benefits to Tanzania.
“Dar-es-Salaam was not performing well from a commercial perspective, so we have taken the decision to suspend the route,” a statement issued by the airline in Dar es Salaam stressed.
According to the statement, customers booked to fly with BA after March 31 will be offered a full refund or be rebooked onto flights to or from Nairobi in Kenya, Entebbe in Uganda or Lusaka in Zambia. The airline has been operating three times a week between London and Dar es Salaam.
Tourist companies in Tanzania, however, expressed their concern that the closure of BA operations will decrease tourist flows into Tanzania due to disturbances for booked passengers and the cost of connections. BA has been the most reliable passenger carrier for diplomats, government officials and intellectuals travelling to the United Kingdom and the United States through Heathrow.
Tanzania Association of Tour Operators Chairman Leopold Kabendera once said Tanzania will miss a great opportunity, as British travellers are usually confident and feel safe when using their own airline. Foreign tour operators also may lose confidence to book their clients to fly to Tanzania through other airlines.
The United Kingdom is currently the leading source of tourists visiting Tanzania every year, competing with the United States. About 60,000 tourists fly to Tanzania every year through British airports.
BA made some changes to its Africa network after suspending the Boeing 767 services operated on the Dar es Salaam route. The airline added 224 seats a week to the Nairobi route through an additional once-weekly Nairobi overnight service, which will operate from the end of May 2013 and be served with a Four Class 777-200 aircraft. This brings the total number of Nairobi flights to eight per week; seven day-time departures from Heathrow and one overnight departure.
The airline has confirmed that their trial addition in capacity to Johannesburg during UK summer time with BA33/BA34 in 2012 has been confirmed to operate through the same season this year, with three additional Johannesburg rotations starting in May 2013. The additional services will complement the 14 direct flights BA already operates each week bringing the total services to 17 a week. The additional services will be operated by a 4-class, 777-200.
After announcing its plan to pull out its flights to Tanzania, Dubai-registered Emirates Airlines added more than 1,400 seats a week on its Dar es Salaam-Dubai route with the introduction of a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft in February 2013 to fill the gap left by British Airways.
Emirates released a larger aircraft to replace the Airbus 340-500, giving a 40% boost to seat capacity.
“Dar es Salaam is one of East Africa’s most popular destinations, and the introduction of the new Boeing 777 is a direct response to increasing passenger demand on this route,” said Jean Luc Grillet, Emirates Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations for Africa. “Emirates carried 148,000 passengers on flights to and from Dar es Salaam last year. With the new Boeing 777 service, we expect this to noticeably grow as our customers continue to explore the opportunities Emirates’ global network has to offer.”
In addition to carrying more passengers, using the new aircraft will also have a positive impact on Tanzania’s import and export industry. Emirates SkyCargo, using the Airbus 340-500, had a belly-hold capacity of 30 tonnes in both directions. The Boeing 777-300ER has a capacity of up to 46 tonnes, which means businesses will benefit from an additional 112 tons of weekly capacity on the route.
Emirates established operations in Tanzania in 1997 and flies daily from Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) in Dar es Salaam to Dubai, connecting passengers to 117 destinations in 74 countries across six continents.
An eTurboNews Article