Isack Kamwelwe, the minister for Works, Transport and Communication said here yesterday that plans are underway to have international flights at the lake zone airport, especially routes to Europe and Asia. This is part of a strategy to improve air transport in the country, he said.
Currently, there are three airports with regular passenger flights in the country, namely the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, the Kilimanjaro International Airport and Abeid Amani Karume International Airport in Zanzibar.
Speaking at the official opening of the ATCL regional office, the minister stated that the government is working hard to revamp the national carrier.
He praised the management of ATCL for efforts that have seen the company continue doing well since the government decided to make it great again.
“ We are at an advanced stage to start direct flights to Europe and other countries from Mwanza, thus ATCL’s decision to have more international flights is in line with government plans to improve air transport in the country,” he said.
The government is focusing on introducing direct flights to strategic business destinations, he said, citing for instance a country like Israel that have at least 40,000 tourists visiting Tanzania annually.
He said further that the government has made the decision to purchase modern planes in an effort to tap the country’s full potential in air transport.
He used the ceremony to assure the public that Tanzanian air space is safe, explaining that there should be no fear that the recently purchased Boeing 787 Dreamliner by the government is similar to the two Boeing planes that crashed in recent months.
He urged ATCL to consider introducing a Mwanza-Dodoma route, saying there seems to be so many people likely to use such a route.
Speaker of the National Assembly Job Ndugai who was the chief guest at the event urged the ATCL management to ensure that the company does not go back to where it was before the fifth phase government came into office.
“Many people including MPs had lost hope travelling in ATCL planes and never thought that the national carrier would be in the air again,” he said, noting that hearing that ATCL passengers are stranded at airports was a frequent event.
Ndugai thanked President John Magufuli for efforts that have seen the company that was down on its knees up in the air.
He urged Tanzanians to embrace the nationalist spirit and fly on Air Tanzania, saying that is what citizens of neighbouring countries that have strong airlines mostly do.
Air Tanzania Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ladislaus Matindi told the gathering that the corporation is focused on more international routes and has introduced two trips on Monday, Wednesday and Friday for Dodoma-Dar es Salaam flights.
“After serious analysis we realized that those are the busy days. Therefore in addition to daily flights we decided to increase the number in those days,” he added.