- Edelweiss landed an Airbus A340 at KIA on October 9, 2021, reigniting the aviation tourism sector in Tanzania.
- The aircraft was greeted with a water cannon salute and several Tanzanian officials.
- The inauguration of Edelweiss is seen as a vote of confidence in Tanzania as a safe destination for business, particularly leisure tourism, thanks to health and safety protocols in place.
Edelweiss, a sister company of Swiss International Air Lines and a member of the Lufthansa Group, has a nearly 20 million customer base across the world.
On October 9, 2021, a maiden Edelweiss Airbus A340 landed at KIA, a major gateway to Tanzania’s northern tourism circuit, with 270 tourists from across Europe on board, essentially gracing the tourism high season.
The airplane was greeted with a water cannon salute after having successfully touched the JRO’s runway at 8:04 a.m. East African Time, as Cabinet Ministers responsible for Works and Transport as well as from Natural Resources and Tourism, Prof. Makame Mbarawa and Dr. Damas Ndumbaro, respectively, along with Tanzania UNDP Country Resident Representative, Ms. Christine Musisi; Switzerland Ambassador, Dr. Didier Chassot; and Lufthansa Group General Manager Southern and Eastern Africa, Dr. Andrea Shulz led the crowd to cheer on the historic landing of the aircraft.
“The inauguration of Edelweiss is a vote of confidence in Tanzania as a safe destination for business, particularly leisure tourism, thanks to health and safety protocols in place to ensure that air travel remains safe and doesn’t spread the Coronaviruses globally,” Prof. Mbarawa said amid the cheers from the floor.
He added: “The Edelweiss offers a critical link to the key Tanzania northern tourism circuit with the fastest growing hub in Europe in today’s aviation industry and other metropolitan cities across the world, breathing a new life to our tourism, a key economic industry.”
Natural Resources and Tourism Minister, Dr. Damas Ndumbaro, said the Edelweiss offering 2 weekly connections from Zurich, Switzerland, to Tanzania was not only a shot in the arm for ailing tourism but also a clear sign of growing confidence for the travel industry in the country’s COVID-19 measures.
Edelweiss will be flying from Zurich to Kilimanjaro and on to Zanzibar every Tuesday and Friday from now until the end of March. The route will be operated with an Airbus A340. The aircraft offers a total of 314 seats – 27 in Business Class, 76 in Economy Max, and 211 in Economy.
Bernd Bauer, CEO of Edelweiss, said: “As Switzerland’s leading leisure airline, Edelweiss flies to the most beautiful destinations worldwide. With Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar, we now have 2 new holiday destinations on offer, which perfectly complement our range on the African continent and enable our guests from Switzerland and Europe to enjoy unforgettable travel experiences.”
Didier Chassot, Switzerland’s ambassador to Tanzania, was delighted when the first flight landed: “We are very happy that a Swiss airline is again connecting Switzerland and Tanzania directly. This decision by Edelweiss shows how highly attractive Tanzania – mainland and Zanzibar – remains for Swiss people. It also shows growing confidence in the efforts by Tanzania to address the challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic with the necessary resolve and transparency, which we very much welcome.”
The Edelweiss direct flight to KIA has, among other factors, been possible thanks to a trinity partnership from the United Nations Development Programs (UNDP), Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO), and the government through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.
“I’m very grateful to witness some of the fruits of our partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and TATO in boosting tourism recovery in Tanzania. Congratulations to the Government of Tanzania, to TATO, and to the Swissair management team for all the hard work that has led us to this day,” UNDP Country Representative, Ms. Christine Musisi, told the audience at the flight reception function.
Ms. Musisi said that she recalled at the height of global lockdowns in April 2020 when UNDP led the UN rapid social-economic impact assessment of COVID-19 to Tanzania, it was clear from this study that tourism was the hardest hit economic industry in the country.
With an 81 percent drop in tourism, many businesses collapsed resulting in significant revenue loss, a loss of three-quarters of jobs in the industry, be they tour operators, hotels, tour guides, transporters, food suppliers, and traders.
This severely affected the livelihoods of many, especially the micro, small and medium enterprises, unprotected workers, and informal businesses that comprise mostly youth and women.
“We thank the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism for trusting UNDP as a collaborative partner in preparing the comprehensive COVID-19 recovery and sustainability plan for the tourism industry,” she explained.
Ms. Musisi quickly added: “We also thank TATO for their leadership in the multi-stakeholder engagement that led to the joint tourism recovery project we are implementing and which has contributed to opening this route and through various measures, working towards re-opening markets in Europe, [the] Americas, and the Middle East.”
“I believe that this is just the beginning of our journey in building back better a tourism industry that is inclusive, resilient, and prosperous,” Ms. Musisi concluded.
With the introduction of twice-weekly flights by Edelweiss, the UNDP boss said she was buoyant that Tanzania would not only reclaim but also increase, the share of the tourism market in Europe and Northern America.
TATO CEO, Mr. Sirili Akko, expressed his profound gratitude to Edelweiss and UNDP, saying their support came at the darkest moment in the tourism industry’s recent history caused by the COVID-19 pandemic impacts.
A tourist, Mr. Amer Vohora, said: “Edelweiss finally flying back to Tanzania is a long time coming, a fabulous direct flight that’s super convenient and very comfortable with perfect service, as I will need to fly back often to visit the Edelweiss Coffee Estates. I’ll be booking my return flight as soon as I get back.”