(eTN) – Airline sources in Tanzania have indicated fresh interest by airlines in flying to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO), following the successful market entry by Qatar Airways (QR) on July 25.
‘We know that Emirates and Turkish have been sniffing around after it was made public that QR will come to JRO in July. I think they see Qatar Airways come into East Africa in a big way, threatening their own growth plans, and they may now have to think of adding secondary airports besides the main hubs in Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and Entebbe. Qatar Airways has an advantage going into such places like JRO and next month to Mombasa and then Zanzibar, because they use a single aisle A320, which provides sufficient capacity when starting a new route, while Emirates, for instance, only has wide-body aircraft. With Turkish they could use their B737-800, but then first they need the aircraft to expand without putting into doubt their other plans for Africa to go this year to 30 and next year to 40 destinations.
“But Qatar Airways has rattled the market for sure. As you pointed out, they will by end of the year fly to 7 destinations in East Africa and then only Bujumbura will be missing from their list. That was a smart move, because people now fly from JRO and not need to go to Dar or Nairobi first, which makes it convenient and saves a lot of traveling time. There is a big market for such travel, and QR saw it first, so I give them my compliments,” said a regular aviation source from Dar es Salaam when asked to confirm talk that indeed other major airlines had renewed interest in adding a second gateway for Tanzania with Kilimanjaro, which would of course enormously benefit the tourism industry in the country with direct access to the famous northern circuit national parks.
Game opener some years ago was KLM, which is now flying daily to Kilimanjaro and also serves Dar es Salaam, leaving other airlines to connect via Nairobi or Dar es Salaam on regional or domestic flights to reach JRO, something Qatar Airways clearly saw as an open invitation to make this their second Tanzanian destination before later in the year Zanzibar will be added, making it three.