So, is the Boeing Dreamliner starting on the wrong foot?

18Nov 2018
James Kandoya
Guardian On Sunday
So, is the Boeing Dreamliner starting on the wrong foot?
  • As the newly acquired Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner is set to commence long haul operations to China via Thailand next February, there are lingering doubts about the route’s viability among air travel experts

DESPITE government plans to start flying its new Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner to Guangzhou, in China, via Bangkok in Thailand in February, next year, local and foreign experts warn that the route is not economically gainful.

“Thailand is not a promising route. The strategic plan for the airline is to bring as many tourists in the country as possible and Thailand is not even on the top ten list,” said an expert on social media who brands himself as Oleg E, a professional in Investment, Aviation Projects.

“You can have a route to China, but China is in the 6th position and too far away from Tanzania. So even direct flights would be a huge mistake,” he added.

Reached for comment by telephone, Minister for Works, Transport and Communication Isack Kamwelwe defended the government move, saying enough market research was done prior to the decision.

The minister said the new Dreamliner will be used only for long routes in China and India via Thailand, adding that there were plenty of passengers coming in and going out in those countries.

“These posts on social media challenging the decision are just opinions. We welcome anyone whose ideas can help to explore best ways of utilising the new airliner effectively,” he said.

Kamwelwe said all preparations have been completed to launch the national tourism portal to promote available tourism attractions in the country by the end of this year, which will also increase the number of tourists from the said destinations.

“It is my hope that once the Dreamliner is launched by President John Magufuli, more tourists, particularly from China, India and other Far East countries will come to the country,” he reiterated.

Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) chief executive officer Sirili Akkho, for his part, told the Guardian in a telephone interview that the new Dreamliner scheduled to start operations next year was very strategic to the national economy.

“China is a strategic place, but this may not be realised at the moment. But in a few days to come it will doubly increase the number of tourists coming in from  Far East countries, especially China,” he said.

Kamwele pointed out that China is an outbound tourist country and it had shown great interest in Tanzania and shown keen interest to visit its tourist attractions.

“Therefore, it is my hope the ongoing campaign will bear fruit,” the minister said.

Three days ago, China’s multinational company Touchroad International signed an agreement with the Tanzania Tourism Board (TTB) under which it is to bring into the 10,000 tourists by next year.

A press statement said the agreement was signed in Shanghai during a TTB road show in China to promote Tanzania's tourist attractions. The road show was organised by the Tanzania embassy in China in collaboration with TTB and the Chinese government.

Under the agreement, the Shanghai-based company will fly in tourists using a special chartered plane. The signing ceremony was graced by Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources Dr Aloyce Nzuki, TTB and other government officials.

Shanghai was the first point of the road show that begun with a meeting that was opened by Dr Nzuki. From Shanghai it is to through four other cities, namely Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Chengdu and Beijing, where it will end on Tuesday.

TTB Managing Director Devotha Mdachi presented the country’s tourist attractions and investment opportunities.

During the meeting some 200 Tanzania and China tourism stakeholders had a chance to showcase their tour packages tailor made for the Chinese market.

The challenges came soon after the national airline flag Carrier, Air Tanzania Corporation (ATC) announced to start flying using its new Dreamliner to Guangzhou the third largest city in China after Beijing and China, February next year.

ATCL Distribution and Sales Manager Edward Nkwabi said that the airline suing its new Dreamliner targets those cities because they are major commercial centres and most Tanzanian businesspeople travel there to purchase goods.