QATAR Airways has announced the launch of flights to Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) from Doha starting July this year.
Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said this at the ITB Berlin, the world's largest travel show that took place in the German capital last week.
A statement issued by Qatar Airways and a copy availed to the 'Daily News' in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday said the airliner will serve KIA with Airbus A320 via Nairobi. On his part, CEO of Kilimanjaro Airport Development Company (KADCO), Mr Marco van de Kreeke, said the link with Qatar Airways which enjoys strong global network will improve connections to the Middle East, India, China and other Asian destinations.
He was optimistic that the daily service to Doha will further stimulate the growth and help the airport fulfill its mission of becoming the most preferred gateway to the Northern tourism circuit of Tanzania."We are very happy with the Qatar Airways move to fly to KIA. Flights to Australia and New Zealand will also improve.
Travellers from Europe and America will have another option to reach Kilimanjaro", he said. He said the Doha hub provides many connection opportunities to big capitals and cities around the world. "For example, London which will be soon served from Doha by Qatar Airways five times a day is the biggest market source for Kilimanjaro", he added.
The Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) Managing Director Dr Aloyce Nzuki while commenting on the importance of the new route, said there are plenty of benefits for the Northern Tourism Circuit. "Kilimanjaro, Tanga, Arusha and Manyara regions host some of the most unique and important tourist attractions in the country. We expect the benefits to spread over to the entire area", he said.
He said the Kilimanjaro route is one of the fastest growing hubs in today's aviation industry and for the development of tourism potentials in the country. Qatar Airways has been voted best airline in the world. We believe this quality product matches the many unique experiences that our National Parks offer to the discerning traveller of today," he added.
The announcement of Qatar Airways comes shortly after the company had secured 35 million US dollars (about 56bn/-) boost to give the airport a facelift. The renovation work which covers upgrading of runway, taxiways and aprons started in January this year. The project will also include building of a new taxiway to increase the capacity of the airport, upgrading and expansion of the terminal building to meet the growing number of passengers.
Kilimanjaro International Airport currently serves 650,000 passengers per year with the number of international arrivals increasing consistently by nearly 15 per cent per year since 2003. Qatar Airways currently operates a modern fleet of 105 aircraft to 112 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.