The Airbus A-330-330 jetliner is part of expected four direct flights per week from the commercial capital of Istanbul to KIA, a restoration of the route since suspending flights two years ago.
Atupele Mwakibete, the deputy minister for Works and Transport officiated at a function to receive the plane, landing at 1:30am with 251 tourists, flanked by senior government officials, the KIA management and Turkish Airlines officers.
The plane’s arrival was a good day for the tourism business, he said, noting that efforts by President Samia Suluhu Hassan to advertise the country via ‘The Royal Tour’ documentary will be paying off.
The film has attracted many tourists to come to Tanzania, with various airlines, including Turkish Airlines, taking up that opportunity to transport tourists.
Citing immense hospitality offered to tourists, he was optimistic that when they go back home others will come. “Today we have received here 99 tourists while 152 others are proceeding to Zanzibar,” he said.
Christina Mwakatobe, the airport company’s acting director, said that Turkish Airlines will be using the bigger Airbus A-330-300 planes carrying up to 289 passengers, owing to the big tourist market and high demand for air travel,
KIA first received a big plane used by Ederures Airline flying from the Swiss business capital of Zurich, to KIA via Zanzibar, and last month Eurowings landed, a franchise affiliated with German carrier Lufthansa. Other flights by major international airlines are expected, she stated.
Dr Natu Mwamba, the KADCO board chairperson, said the restoration of Turkish Airlines flights sets the pace for other international airlines as the tourism sector recovers, noting that Manyara, Arusha, Kilimanjaro and Tanga regions will use the flights to airlift horticultural products, minerals and gems to be sold in southern European markets.
Gerson Msigwa, the chief government spokesman, said it is a good thing to see big airlines increase flights to Tanzania, suspended due to Covid-19 pandemic. Turkish Airlines has more than 350 planes making flights to 160 countries, he stated.
Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) data indicates strong tourism sector growth, he said, noting that since January 2021 tourism arrivals had reached 275,796 visitors, rising to 368,700 tourists from January to April this year.
This shows that the government objective of attaining five million tourists by 2025 can be realised, he added.