Magufuli holds talks with top Boeing official

Tuesday December 06 2016
pic magufuli hold talks

President John Magufuli is shown a brochure of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner by Mr Jim Deboo, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Director of Marketing, Africa, at State House, Dar es Salaam, yesterday. PHOTO | STATE HOUSE

Dar es Salaam. President John Magufuli yesterday held talks with a senior official of American aircraft manufacturer Boeing.

Dr Magufuli’s meeting with Boeing’s Director of Marketing, Africa, Mr Jim Deboo, centred on the government’s intention to purchase a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner plane from the company.

The government is currently implementing a comprehensive plan to revive the national carrier, Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL). Reports from the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication said last week that talks between the government and Boeing on the purchase of the 787-8 were going on and an advance payment of $10 million (Sh21 billion) had already been made. The list price of the 787-8 is $224.6 million according to various international aviation websites.

The plane, which will be able to carry 262 passengers in a three-class configuration, is expected to be delivered in June 2018.

President Magufuli said the government was committed to strengthening the country’s aviation sector.

“The Fifth Phase government plans to purchase four more planes, including three large jetliners, as part of efforts to boost economic growth by making it possible for tourists to fly directly to Tanzania from their countries,” a State House statement quoted the President saying.

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Dr Magufuli said while Tanzania was struggling to attract 2 million tourists annually, 12 million tourists were visiting Morocco every year.

“It is because we don’t have an efficient national airline. Tourists need to make several connections to visit Tanzania. This puts them off despite the fact that Tanzania is among five countries with the best tourist attractions in the world,” he said. Yesterday’s talks were also attended by Mr Doto James and Dr Leonard Chamriho, the Finance and Transport permanent secretaries, respectively.

The government also plans to buy a Bombardier Q400 NextGen turboprop airliner to be delivered next June and two Bombardier CS300 jetliners capable of carrying between 137 and 150 passengers, which are scheduled to be delivered between May and June 2018.

Bombardier Commercial Aircraft announced last week that it had signed purchase agreements with the government through the Tanzania Government Flight Agency (TGFA). The government’s plan to purchase a 787 Dreamliner has been greeted with mixed views.

While some aviation experts have praised the decision, others have called for caution , saying the global aviation sector was going through turbulent times.

In another development, President Magufuli yesterday bade farewell to African Development Bank (AfDB) resident representative Tonia Kandiero and Cuban ambassador Jorge Luis Lopez Tormo.

While Dr Kandiero is moving to South Africa after being promoted to AfDB Southern Africa director, Mr Tormo is returning home following the end of his tour of duty.