Swissport Tanzania has added ground handling services at the Songwe Airport which serves the region around Mbeya but reportedly also opened a station at Mtwara Airport recently, as the number of flights to both airports has significantly increased in the recent past following refurbishment and modernization in particular at Songwe. This had added traffic potential and after handed a concession by the Tanzania Airport Authority to provide ground handling services, Swissport has now moved to commercialize these rights.
FastJet meanwhile has commenced their scheduled flights, initially three times a week, from Dar es Salaam to Songwe, competing on the route with Precision Air which operates ATR turboprop aircraft as opposed to FastJet’s Airbus A319. Precision Air moved from initially 4 flights per week to then daily and has since in fact added extra flights on days with higher demand for seats. Notably though is fuel availability of JET A1 still an issue at Songwe in spite of efforts by TAA to have an aviation fuel supplier to set up base at that airport, compelling the airlines to carry enough fuel with them to complete the return journey to Dar es Salaam.
The expansion to Mtwara, a region in Southern Tanzania not too far from the border with Mozambique and located near the massive gas fields which were discovered only recently and to Songwe, Mbeya, where tourism has a significant potential but has hitherto been unable to tap into it due to lack of regular connections, has been seen as one of Swissport’s growth strategies. As handling in Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro has reached near saturation point, further growth is now only possible through either added flights by existing airlines handled by Swissport or new airlines coming in, which presently are far and few between after British Airways dumped Dar es Salaam earlier this year.