Air Tanzania’s Zim business soaring
Nelson Gahadza, Senior Business Reporter AIR Tanzania, which has been operating in Zimbabwe for the past four years, is set to expand operations in the country, amid booming business, guided by its five-year strategic plan.
Zimbabwe’s Open Skies Policy, adopted to enhance the country’s attractiveness to potential investors, has seen over 18 airlines foreign airlines flying into the country.
A four-member Air Tanzania delegation (including the country manager) is currently in the country on an operational visit to scout for new opportunities on the domestic and regional routes.
Head of the delegation, Mr Lembris Laanyuni, the airline’s director of human resources and administration said Zimbabwe provided a conducive operating environment for the airline to operate.
“We have been operating in Zimbabwe for the past four years. Our company is expanding to achieve new heights in operations and currently, we are implementing a five-year strategic plan; we have some expansion plans and Zimbabwe is part of it.
“We thank the Government of Zimbabwe for accepting and giving us a conducive environment for operating here,” he said.
Mr Laanyuni noted Tanzania and Zimbabwe have a long history to share since the struggle for independence days, but now the relationship is into business.
“We can’t talk of expansion without mentioning Zimbabwe. We have a good number of passengers and currently, we are operating four flights weekly (into) Zimbabwe and we have also been uplifting cargo to Zimbabwe and that is our main business.
“As we open up to the new destinations, it will give passengers the flexibility to connect their plans with our network,” Mr Laanyuni said.
He said in terms of cargo flights to Harare, the airline is looking to increase frequencies in Zimbabwe.
“For Zimbabwe, the market has been growing especially from Harare-Lusaka-Dar es salaam. Now we need to open up Bulawayo-Victoria Falls and as we open into other regional markets, we will be able to connect with tourist destinations in Zanzibar, and we are thinking of having packages to connect with Tanzania’s (wildlife-rich) northen circuit,” he said.
Mr Laanyuni said Air Tanzania currently operates in 10 regional destinations and more than 18 local and international destinations and Zimbabwe is one of them. The plan now is to increase frequencies in international destinations and open new international destinations.
“We are receiving a new cargo flight, which is a B767 with a capacity of uplifting 54 tonnes and Zimbabwe is one of the destinations we are thinking of that has potential for expansion,” he said. The airliner has a fleet of 11 aircraft, which consist of large and medium-sized aircrafts and this year the company is expecting to receive a B767 and two B737 which will give the airliner more capacity to uplift passengers.
“Currently we are operating internationally in China and Mumbai, India. We have regional flights in Lusaka, Angola, Lubumbashi, Comoros, Nairobi and we have plans to expand this year in Lagos, Dubai and Kinshasa, and increase frequencies in Eastern Africa,” he said.
The delegation has already met with the Airports Company of Zimbabwe (ACZ). In Zimbabwe, the airliner is represented by LED Travel and Tours. Mr Laanyuni said the airline’s cargo business grew by 14 percent last year and it is an indicator that there is a need to open and explore new markets.
He said passenger business grew 11 percent, hence increasing frequencies will increase the numbers.
“We will make more strategic interventions in terms of marketing and sales and engaging stakeholders which gives us much opportunity to work with Harare. We are not looking at Zimbabwe in isolation, but connect it to the rest of the world,” he said.
Global air traffic is expected to register a boom this year, returning to pre-pandemic levels driven by the reopening of markets in Asia, especially China.
In 2022, global air travel was at 68,5 percent of pre-pandemic (2019) levels, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Compared to 2021, international traffic increased by 152,7 percent in 2022 and surpassed 2019 levels by 62,2 percent.