September 20, 2019 / 11:32 AM / a month ago

Tanzania inks deal to buy two passenger planes from Airbus

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - Tanzania has signed a contract with Airbus for the European planemaker to supply two passenger jets for the country’s national airline to help expand its small fleet and extend its network of destinations, a government official said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: An Airbus A220-300 of Air Baltic takes off from runway south at Munich international airport in Germany, April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Michael Dalder/File Photo

Benjamin Ndimila, the Chief Executive Officer of Tanzania Government Flight Agency (TGFA), told Reuters that under the contract Airbus (AIR.PA) would supply two A220-300 aircraft.

President John Magufuli has been personally championing the revival of Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL), joining other regional governments that are launching or revamping national carriers to share in Africa’s growing aviation business.

Last month, neighboring Uganda also relaunched its national carrier.

TGFA, under the president’s office, leases aircraft to Air Tanzania.

Air Tanzania’s existing fleet includes one Boeing (BA.N) 787-8 Dreamliner, two Airbus A220-300 jets and three DHC Dash 8-400 aircraft, formerly known as the Bombardier Q400 turboprop.

Ndimila said the new Airbus planes would have a more luxurious interior than in the existing aircraft.

“The new planes will have an improved entertainment system including screens in each seat,” he said.

Airbus, he said, had told Tanzania the planes would be ready in about a year. He declined to say how much they would cost.

Magufuli’s government reckons a more efficient national airline will help tourism, a mainstay of Tanzania’s economy.

On Monday, he said the airline carried 75% of domestic air traffic, up from 3% three years ago.

“So far the business is doing very well. We are overwhelmed by the demand ... we wish these planes could be delivered even tomorrow,” Ndimila said.

Reporting by Nuzulack Dausen; Editing by Elias Biryabarema and Mark Potter

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