Nairobi News


Tanzania welcomes first-ever cargo plane

The Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s commercial capital was filled with joy and excitement on June 3, 2023, as Tanzanians gathered to witness the historic arrival of the country’s first-ever cargo aircraft.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan led the welcoming party of the freighter plane, named Lake Tanganyika, and bearing the Air Tanzania emblem.

Commandeered by Captain Neema Swai and her team of pilots, the aircraft’s arrival marked a significant milestone in Tanzanian aviation history. Captain Swai, one of the ten female pilots for Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL), became the first Tanzanian pilot to fly a Boeing 767-300.

The flight can fly for seven to ten hours without landing, depending on the weight of the cargo.

The arrival of the fuel-efficient Boeing 767-300F cargo plane, with a capacity of 54 tonnes, is expected to have far-reaching economic implications for Tanzania.

Currently, Tanzania exports approximately 24,000 tonnes of cargo annually, with agricultural goods comprising the majority. However, due to limited airlift capacity, only 420 tonnes can be transported by the country’s flights.

The introduction of the cargo plane aims to address this issue, allowing Tanzania to export larger quantities of goods using its own aircraft. This move aligns with President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s vision to transform the air transport sector and drive economic growth.

According to the data Tanzania produces 24,971 tonnes of fish, meat, flowers, vegetables, and fruit products annually, supplied to India, France, Germany, Netherlands, Greece, Spain, Cyprus, Romania and Malta.

The cargo plane’s arrival is part of a broader plan by the government to strengthen the state-owned company, Air Tanzania Corporation Limited (ATCL).

The administration has already taken steps to bolster ATCL by acquiring additional aircraft. In July 2021, the government approved the purchase of four planes, including two Boeing 737 Max-9, one Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, and the Boeing 767 Freighter.

Saturday’s arrival of the cargo plane, coinciding with the ongoing discussions between ATCL and Kenya Airways (KQ) regarding a prospective collaboration in cargo transportation. As per reliable sources, this collaboration between KQ and ATCL aims to unlock commercial prospects and cater to the needs of the global market in terms of cargo transportation, particularly encompassing perishable goods.

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