Air Tanzania gets 787-8 – but where will it fly it? Mumbai, London and Guangzhou best options

Air Tanzania

A great source of national pride. Earlier this month Air Tanzania welcomed its 787-8 to its fleet – along with half of the country it seems! The arrival of the wide-body marks the next stage in the flag carrier’s rebuild, which at its inception included the purchase of the 787-8, three Q400s and two A220-300s.

Air Tanzania can certainly be classified as one of Africa’s smaller flag carriers. It operates a small fleet, with domestic and regional operations served by its three-strong Q400s, a fleet which has recently been joined by the carrier’s latest acquisition – a 787-8. Two A220-300s (Airbus’ rebadged name for Bombardier’s CS300) are also on order and were scheduled for delivery at the same time as the wide-body, but they are yet to make it to Africa. A Q300 also remains on the carrier’s books, but according to ch-aviation’s fleet database, the aircraft is currently ‘inactive’.

When referring to the airline’s website, the carrier was established in 1977, following the dissolution of East African Airways. Air Tanzania has gone through a number changes in its structure and ownership as a result of the Government’s efforts to ensure that the country owns a strong national airline. The airline was  partially privatised in 2002, when the local Government reduced its shareholding to 51% and entered into a partnership with South African Airways (SAA). The arrangement ended in 2006 when the Government repurchased SAA’s stake. The latest stage of the airline’s revamped strategy, which is now coming to an end, saw the ordering of the small but perfectly-formed new fleet. 

According to OAG schedule data for w/c 19 July, the airline operates 136 weekly frequencies. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city, is the carrier’s biggest operation and home base, commanding 39% of its weekly seats, well ahead of its #2 airport at Mwanza (17%), situated on Lake Victoria in the north of the country. The flag carrier is only the fourth largest airline (4,028 seats) at Dar es Salaam, offering less seats than Precision Air (8,180), fastjet (6,448) and Ethiopian Airlines (4,250). This position may well change following the arrival of Air Tanzania’s Boeing aircraft to its fleet.

Air Tanzania

Passengers turning up for a run-of-the-mill Air Tanzania domestic service to Mwanza or Kilimanjaro will get a nice surprise in August, a flight on a 787-8. Does this mean that by September it expects to be flying the aircraft long-haul? Top of the list along with Mumbai are London and Guangzhou.

Where to fly its 787?

With its improved fleet, Air Tanzania is seemingly on the verge of a network expansion programme, which according to the airline’s website will ‘include destinations in Africa, Europe, Asia, and US’. Indeed, the carrier is promoting flights to Mumbai on its home page (see advert below), yet no start date has been mooted. Clearly having a 787-8 sat around doing nothing is expensive, so the airline is presently using it on domestic routes to Mwanza and Kilimanjaro. But where should Air Tanzania fly its new piece of kit?

Analysis of connecting data from OAG Traffic Analyser for Dar es Salaam between June 2017 and May 2018 on destinations greater than 4,500 kilometres identifies that the vast majority of transit passengers are heading for Europe (highlighted in light green), followed by Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia. Drilling down to an airport level reveals the following graph, which confirms the regional preference of travellers presently having to use hubs to get to their respective final destinations. In total 919 airports were flown to directly or indirectly from Dar es Salaam.

Air Tanzania

Source: OAG Traffic Analyser.

Given the evidence above, it is understandable why the carrier is touting a Mumbai connection, as it currently is the #2 connecting traffic destination. Next up for Air Tanzania in terms of long-haul routes could be a service to London, and then maybe Guangzhou, this year’s World Routes hosts. As expected, New York is the top US destination demanded by Tanzanian travellers, in 20th position.

Dubai dominates hub hoovering

The leading connecting airport is Dubai, currently commanding 20% of transit traffic from Dar es Salaam, ahead of Addis Ababa (15%) and Istanbul Atatürk (12%). The remaining MEB3 hubs (Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha) and another FLAPI (Frankfurt, London Heathrow, Amsterdam, Paris CDG and Atatürk) gateway are just behind, with the Dutch airport in fourth spot (9.1%), the UAE capital in fifth (7.5%) and Qatar Airways’ base in sixth (7.0%).

Airline Hub Aircraft (WF)
Emirates Dubai (DXB) B773 (daily)
Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi (AUH) A320 (daily)
Ethiopian Airlines Addis Ababa (ADD) EQV (double-daily)
flydubai Dubai (DXB) B738 (daily)
Kenya Airways Nairobi (NBO) E190 (28)
KLM Amsterdam (AMS) B772 (daily)
Oman Air Muscat (MCT) B73S (daily)
Qatar Airways Doha (DOH) A319 (daily)
South African Airways Johannesburg (JNB) A319 (10)
SWISS Zurich (ZRH) A333 (six)
Turkish Airlines Istanbul Atatürk (IST) B739 (daily)
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser w/c 20 July.

Looking ahead, Air Tanzania does have some more regional routes planned to start next month, when referring to anna.aero’s New Routes Database. On 26 August, the African carrier will commence a four times weekly service from Dar es Salaam to Entebbe (via Kilimanjaro), a sector it last served in March 2009. On the same day it will also begin a three times weekly operation to Bujumbura (via Kilimanjaro), a route it last flew over 16 years ago. Both city pairs will be flown by its Q400 workhorses. Whenever Air Tanzania unveils its long-haul route aspirations with its factory-fresh 787-8, you will hear it here first!

Air Tanzania

Coming soon,…but when? Air Tanzania’s planned service to Mumbai is not on sale on its website or recorded in OAG schedule data, yet clearly the airline is promoting it already with no firm launch date. For the time being, the African carrier is using its only long-haul capable piece of kit on domestic services to Mwanza and Kilimanjaro.


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