Air Tanzania CEO Ladislaus Matindi has given himself five years to reverse his company’s fortunes after his predecessors virtually ran it aground. In charge of the airline since last September, Matindi aims to win back market share, stimulate the economy and boost Tanzania’s unquestionable tourism potential.
Air Tanzania (ATC) today operates two aircraft, one Bombardier Q400 and one Q300, and plans call for a further Q400 due by the end of this month and three more—a Boeing 787 and two Bombardier CS100s—next year. “Currently, we have 11 domestic routes and one international [destination], Moroni in the Comoros Islands,” Matindi told AIN at company headquarters in Dar es Salaam. “Soon we will be opening up new routes to Nairobi, Entebbe and Bujumbura.”
Today, Tanzania has three scheduled airlines: Air Tanzania, Precision Air and Fastjet. “[All three] have been struggling,” he noted. “The government is putting in money to revamp ATC.”
Matindi opined that African governments must “invest” in airlines to help them grow, although many have squandered state funds to support ailing flag carriers. He argues for the need for airport infrastructure improvements countrywide to allow nighttime operations.
He wants the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to serve as ATC’s flagship as the airline renews the fleet, and he aims to start flights to Europe, Asia and the U.S. His revelation that ATC’s first Dreamliner will launch services next year raised some intrigue, after Tanzania earlier signaled a wish to reduce reliance on Chinese support by indefinitely shelving the Bagamoyo Megaport project in favor of upgrading the existing Dar es Salaam port.
Meanwhile, Sauda Rajab, CEO of fellow Tanzanian regional carrier Precision Air, continues work on cutting persistent losses. “It is a challenge, but we are not there yet,” she said. “We have about seven aircraft in operation; one is about to clear a C-check. We have five ATR72-500s and two ATR42-500s. Recently, because of overhauls, we have been able to put in extra frequencies on some routes, especially Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar.
“At the same time, a second ATR 42-500 has allowed us to start looking at other niche markets. Recently we went back to Entebbe, and we have just announced the start of operations to Kahama, a mining area. We also just announced that by October we will be operating to Seronera [in the Serengeti]. It’s a huge country and it is not fully covered at the moment.”
She referred to the African concept of “co-opetition,” in reference to Air Tanzania, to prevent price wars. “I don’t think at the moment that we are complementary,” she said. “However there is room for us to actually cooperate. You could cover a lot wider [area] in Tanzania, and look at the region’s growth.”
She agreed that nighttime operations at Tanzania’s airports would benefit the airline; today, flights operate only from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. “There is a lot going on at night in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi,” she noted.