PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan on Saturday led Tanzanians in receiving the country’s first-ever cargo plane, Boeing 767-300F, while appealing for support to the government in bringing development.
She called on Tanzanians to continue praying for government leaders for them to be able to collect more revenues that will be spent on execution of various development projects and programmes that include further improving the Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL).
In a well-attended event held at the Terminal One of the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA), Dr Samia also pledged to work on a request by the ATCL Managing Director, Eng Ladislaus Matindi of procuring another cargo plane.
“My pledge to Tanzania is that the government will continue working on all challenges, we need your support and prayers for us to be able to collect more revenue and implement development projects,” she said.
The much-awaited plane landed at the JNIA from the United States (US) at 2.57 Pm, where the team of pilots who brought the ATCL’s cargo aircraft was led by Tanzanian national, Captain Neema Swai.
Upon landing, the fuel-efficient plane with a capacity of carrying 54 tonnes received the traditional water salute from fire fighter engines stationed at the JNIA.
Earlier, the minister for Works and Transport, Prof Makame Mbarawa said operation of the just arrived cargo plane will stimulate business between Tanzania and other countries.
He said procurement of a cargo plane is part of implementation of President Samia’s philosophies on economic diplomacy and enhancing Tanzania’s multilateral cooperation.
The minister noted that in the next year’s budget, the ministry has set aside a budget for improvement of ATCL’s workshop as well as procurement of new aircrafts in a bid to reduce cost of operation in the company.
“The ministry shall continue to implement all development strategies that will ease ATCL’s operation for it to compete in the aviation market,” said Prof Mbarawa.
The minister also assured of the ministry’s total cooperation with the private sector in ensuring cargo flown by ATCL arrives at their destination within a short time for economic benefits of business men and the country at large.
“This is a great opportunity for Tanzanians to export their products abroad for economic gains,” noted Prof Mbarawa.
Earlier this week, Prof Mbarawa explained that currently Tanzania exports cargo weighing about 24,000 tonnes annually from mainly agriculture, fisheries and livestock produce and almost 90 per cent of them are airlifted through airports.
He said currently, the country is able to airlift only 420 tonnes through its flights, pointing out that the arrival of the cargo plane will turn things around, with the country expecting to export more cargo by using its own plane.
For his part, Eng Matindi suggested a need for the government to procure another cargo plane for the company to be able to tap all the potentials in the market.
Giving out statistics, Eng Matindi said the company has managed to increase the volume of cargo that was transported between 2019/2020 to present.
He said in 2019/2020, ATCL airlifted a total of 1,789 tonnes of cargo followed by 1,790 tonnes in 2020/21 and 2,567 tonnes in 2021/22.
“In this year, we have already transported 2,893 tonnes, the trend is promising, and moreover, we are in final stages of signing a contract with Kenya Airways for ATCL to start carrying cargo from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to other countries,” he said.
So far ATCL possesses a total of 12 passenger planes serving domestic, regional and international routes.
Under President Samia, the government in July 2021 decided to purchase four more planes for ATCL, which included two Boeing 737 Max – 9, one Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner and one Boeing 767 Freighter, which arrived on Saturday.
Unveiling the schedule for arrival of the remaining three planes, Eng Matindi noted that the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner will arrive in February next year, while the two Boeing 737 Max – 9 planes are expected in August – December this year.