Turkish Airlines on Wednesday launched its maiden flight to Kilimanjaro from Istanbul via Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa, bringing too much hope to Tanzania's booming tourist industry and horticultural sector.
The 200th Turkish flag carrier touched the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) in the morning and welcomed by Tanzanian high-ranking officials and business community.
Speaking soon after the launch, President and CEO of Turkish Airlines TemelKotil said Tanzania is one of the countries in Africa whose economies are growing steadily, boasting potential for the airline industry.
This is the second route for the Istanbul-based company to operate in the East African country, whose economy largely depends on agricultural, mining and tourism.
In June last year, the company opened the Dar es Salaam- Istanbul direct flight.
"We have been dreaming to fly to Tanzania and particularly Kilimanjaro…our dreams is about Africa and we have started fulfilling the dream," Kotil said, adding that his company is set to launch seven new routes in African countries next year.
"Our task right now is to see how we can link Africa with the outside world through our airlines," he said.
Turkish Airlines is one of the top 10 operators in the world winning a number of awards for offering competitive services in the airline industry.
Tanzanian Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport John Mngodo said the new route will make the Turkish Airlines fly five times a week between the two destinations.
"KIA is within Tanzania's tourist destinations, so by launching this direct flight to Istanbul will market Tanzania's tourism industry to the world and will also make easy the export of flowers grown on the slopes of Mount Meru in the northern part of the country," he said.
Kilimanjaro Airport Development Company (KADCO) Board Chairman Hassan Kobelloh said the number of passengers is increasing by 15 percent annually.
KIA serves more than 650, 000 passengers every year and the number has been going up on yearly basis.
Tourists from Europe and America will have another option to reach Tanzania's northern tourism circuit as the Istanbul hub provides many opportunities to capitals and big cities around the world.
The official said the new route will expose Tanzania's wildlife tourism to Turkey and the rest of the world directly.
Turkish Ambassador to Tanzania Ali Davutoglu said the move is also meant to cement bilateral and trade relations between the two countries.