Bombardier today announced that the company received a firm order for two Q400 turboprop aircraft from the Tanzanian government worth $62 million.
Both aircraft will be delivered in a single class configuration with 76 seats each, and though direct confirmation is still awaited from Air Tanzania, the two aircraft will, according to the information from Dar es Salaam, join a sistership already in use by the ailing national airline.
The firm purchase agreement gives Bombardier a further edge in the Eastern African region, where RwandAir owns and operates two Q400 aircraft in a two class configuration, Ethiopian Airlines flies 15 of these aircraft also in a dual class configuration and Kenya’s LCC JamboJet operates two Q400’s in an all economy configuration. A total of 50 Q400’s are presently in use across the African continent, a sign of superior operating economics and strong market confidence in the manufacturer’s ability to provide after sales service, besides a range of larger aircraft which includes the state of the art twin jet, single aisle C-Series. Bombardier presently has two approved maintenance facilities in Africa – one in Addis Ababa operated by Ethiopian’s MRO and one in Johannesburg, South Africa.
‘Our Q400 aircraft will provide affordable, convenient and comfortable air transport solutions’ said Dr. Leonard Chamuriho, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport, Works and Communication, Tanzania. ‘We are committed to providing state -of-the-art service to our passengers and are keen to expand further as our business grows to include new destinations in Tanzania and the African region.
Tanzania is a large country with some challenging airfields, and the Q400 turboprop’s capability to operate at these airports, its jet-like speed, long-range cruise capability and outstanding turboprop economics were key factors that guided us in selecting the aircraft for our operations’ added Dr. Chamuriho before concluding: ‘The level of in -continent support that Bombardier offers is also very important for us.’
Bombardier’s Vice President Sales responsible for Africa, Mr. Jan Paul Boutibou then added his own voice to the deal when he said: ‘This transaction not only solidifies the relationship between the Government of Tanzania, and Bombardier, but also reaffirms Africa as one of the most prolific Q400 aircraft markets. The Q400 aircraft is a showcase for the continent, where it has proved itself to be extremely efficient as well as cost-effective.’
This decision now also provides some clarity over the direction the Tanzanian government intends to go vis a vis the national airline, which has been struggling financially for years and periodically had to halt operations due to lack of aircraft.
If management changes will be part of this massive injection of capital into the national airline remains to be seen, but given the track record of past leaderships, it is likely to see some more changes in coming weeks and months, meeting the much more stringent criteria of the new Magufuli government in regard of accountability.