Sunday, December 16, 2012

► TANZANIA: Precision Air announces 4x weekly Mbeya flights as new Songwe International Airport opens after 10 years of construction.

Precision Air After a decade under construction, Songwe International Airport, which serves the south western Tanzanian town of Mbeya, on 13 December, joined Dar Es Salaam's Julius Nyerere International, Kilimanjaro Airport, and Zanzibar International as the country's fourth international airport, with Tanzanian carrier Precision Air (PW) amongst the first to announce 4x weekly ATR72-operated flights to the airport, effective 1 February  2013.

Songwe Airport, Tanzania
Mbeya (Songwe) Airport, Tanzania
Precision Air(PW): Dar es Salaam - Mbeya (Songwe), Tanzania
- Effective 1 February 2013
  • PW470 DAR 1120 - 1310 MBI AT7 2457
  • PW471 MBI 1340 - 1530 DAR AT7 2457
Source [Amadeus]

In an interview with Tanzania's Daily News following a PW demonstration flight during the airport's inauguration ceremony, Precision Air’s Commercial Director Patrick Ndekana said:
"Initially, we’ll start with ATR aircraft and we will ply the route four times a week before increasing the frequencies, subject to the performance and passengers volume,” said Mr Ndekana. He said once the volume increases and some infrastructure logistic are put in place, they will deploy Boeing 737-300 which is suitable for such long distance.
Source [Daily News]
The airport, where work started in 2001, is constructed with assistance from the OPEC Fund for  International Development who signed a loan to the tune of USD4.62 million in 2005. 

Infrastructure built includes: 
  • a 3'300m long runway, 
  • a taxiway and parking apron,
  • new arrival and departure buildings,
  • a control  tower,
  • drainage structures, water supply and sewerage systems,
  • a modern baggage handling system,
  • meteorology & communication equipment.
Songwe Airport Project Manager, George Asulumenye, said that over USD20million had been spent on the project covering the feasibility study, administration and construction.

However, persistent disputes over poor quality materials put the contractor (Kenya's Kundan Singh Construction Limited) and the consultant (Dubai's United Engineering & Technical Consultants (UNETEC)) at loggerheads, resulting in continuous delays, which necessitated Tanzanian Government intervention to resolve.