(eTN) – Tanzania’s tourism minister Ezekiel Maige yesterday advised tourism stakeholder to “form a regional airline” aimed at allowing tourists to visit other countries within the Southern African Development Community (SADC). He went on to cite lack of connections to, for instance, Namibia or Angola from Tanzania, displaying a remarkable lack of understanding of airline reality and in the process also giving cause for concern to the East African neighbors of Tanzania. Many of the country’s tourist visitors also like to travel to Tanzania but are hampered by long-standing objections and delays to a single East African tourist visa by national immigration bodies, which could immediately attract a lot more cross-country visits by foreign tourists.
In fact, overnight a comment was procured from an aviation source in Arusha/JRO, who claimed: “We must start to see a concerted campaign pro-SADC and anti-EAC [East African Community] here. We have three main airlines flying in and out of Tanzania into Nairobi from where one can connect several times a week to Luanda in Angola, and connections to Windhoek in Namibia are possible via Johannesburg. The minister knows this and yet talks publicly of the need of forming another regional airline in SADC, when he could support travel by Precision Air, Fly 540 (Tanzania) or even Kenya Airways, which has the biggest network in Africa.
“I think the man has no idea what logistics are involved in setting up an airline, the amount of money needed, and considering the current economic climate in aviation where fuel prices have skyrocketed again, this is not a viable option. It is known even in Tanzania that Precision Air’s life is made difficult, because they are associated with Kenya Airways. They invest to build a brand new multi-million dollar hangar in Dar [es Salaam] and the airport fails to construct a taxiway, rendering it useless.
“Law suits are brought against Precision to stop their plans of launching an ISP on the Dar stock exchange, and instead of supporting Precision as a national airline of Tanzania, our government in Dar continues to talk about reviving Air Tanzania. I think the minister needs to get some education on the EAC protocols of cooperation and the need to strengthen what we have instead of misleading his audiences with cheap rhetoric.”
It was understood that the audience the minister spoke to came from Southern Africa and, needless to say, being the politician that he is, he played to the expectations of those present but in the process ruffled feathers once again across the East African region, where anything pro-South and anti-East has shrill alarm bells ringing, nationally and within the EAC headquarters, where integration and cooperation are the catch phrases and not “sneaking out the back door.”