Mwanza airport gets what many airports need

Following a recent visit to Mwanza, a small, friendly but nevertheless quite provincial airport, perhaps no longer able to cater too much longer for the sharp rise in passenger numbers and aircraft mo

Mwanza airport gets what many airports need

Following a recent visit to Mwanza, a small, friendly but nevertheless quite provincial airport, perhaps no longer able to cater too much longer for the sharp rise in passenger numbers and aircraft movements, behind the scenes questions were asked of regular aviation contacts in Tanzania about the stalled expansion work.

Tanzania has over the past few years invested substantial amounts of money to boost capacity in secondary and tertiary aerodromes and airfields, the new airport in Mbeya being one example and Bukoba being another, but much more needs to be done to allow for airlines that use larger planes and connect East Africa’s largest country by air, especially now that Fastjet is providing low cost fares, at least for those booking well in advance.

Mwanza has seen a sharp rise in flights, with Fastjet now flying their Airbus A319 as many as 25 times a week between Dar es Salaam and Mwanza, and Precision Air, Air Tanzania, and Auric Air adding yet more daily arrivals and departures albeit with smaller aircraft. Earlier this month, RwandAir commenced flights into Mwanza from Kigali, now offering an initial three services each week using a Bombardier Q400NextGen.

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Two airline officials, on condition of anonymity, confirmed observations made by this correspondent when visiting Mwanza a few weeks ago, that facilities, like arrival and departure lounges, are getting overstretched and require full-scale air conditioning in view of the prevailing temperatures and regular humidity levels so close to Lake Victoria. Air traffic control needs to have state-of-the-art equipment installed, and airlines have also requested for a lengthening of the runway to increase safety margins and cater to larger planes.

Work on the expansion project which stalled earlier in the year due to lack of funds is now set to resume after the Tanzania Airport Authority has reportedly received money from the government to continue the work of the Mwanza airport expansion.

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