Wednesday, December 1, 2021
HomeAirlinesKenya AirwaysSky wars: Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda carriers expand as Ethiopian, KQ falter

Sky wars: Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda carriers expand as Ethiopian, KQ falter

By BOB KARASHANI

By ANTONY KITIMO

By MOSES K. GAHIGI

By MICHAEL WAKABI

By ALLAN OLINGO

As East Africa’s leading carriers Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways grapple with financial and politically instigated crises, regional carriers Air Tanzania, Uganda Airlines and RwandAir have laid out plans to eat the big boys’ lunch.

This came to light at the just-concluded 2021 Dubai Air Show, where Uganda Airlines and Air Tanzania signed deals that prepare them for the battle for the skies with ET and KQ. They signed aircraft and spare parts supply deals with leading manufacturers Airbus and Boeing to ensure seamless services in the region and beyond.

In the meantime, RwandAir has signed a codeshare agreement with Qatar Airways that allows the Kigali-based airline to use the Qatari carrier’s huge network to bring competition right to the doorsteps of ET and KQ.

Austerity regime

The falling fortunes of Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines come amid a financial squeeze, which has seen KQ survive on government bailout, while the Addis-based carrier has lately gone into an austerity regime.

The change in fortunes has seen the Ugandan, Tanzania and Rwandan national carriers, backed by the state, shift their models to expansion, both on aircraft and routes, as they seek to pick up business lost by their bigger, older rivals, and set up their own hubs.

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Kenya Airways has nine Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners and Ethiopian has more than 20. But the Tanzanian government, which owns one, is ramping up the competition. On Wednesday, Dodoma placed a $726 million order of four Boeing freighters and passenger jets to boost the airline’s capacity.

Boeing and Tanzania announced on Tuesday an order of a 787-8 Dreamliner, a 767-300 Freighter and two 737 MAX jets. Air Tanzania said it will use the new aircraft to “expand service from the country to new markets across Africa, Asia and Europe,” in direct competition with both Ethiopian and…

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