Tanzania to buy new Airbus, Bombardier planes for national carrier

FILE PHOTO: Tanzania's President elect Magufuli salutes members of the ruling CCM at the party's sub-head office on Lumumba road in Dar es Salaam

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - Tanzania's government will buy two new Airbus jets and one plane from Bombardier Inc as part of a fleet expansion plan for the national flag carrier, the president said on Thursday.

    President John Magufuli has personally taken charge of the revival of Tanzania's loss-making state carrier Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL), spending hundreds of millions of dollars purchasing eight new planes since 2016.

President Magufuli "has already issued instructions for the purchase of three additional planes (two Airbus jets and one Bombardier) to expand air services and improve tourism," the president's office said in a statement. 

The presidency did not say how much the new planes will cost.

    The airline's existing fleet includes one Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, two Airbus A220-300 jets and three Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft.

    ATCL launched maiden flights to India's financial capital Mumbai on Wednesday as it expands its routes with the acquisition of new planes.

    Tanzania hopes the revival of the national airline will boost the tourism sector, the country's biggest foreign exchange earner.

    Its earnings from tourism jumped more than 7% last year to around $2.4 billion, helped by an increase in arrivals from foreign visitors, according to government data.

    Tanzania is best known for its beaches, wildlife safaris and Mount Kilimanjaro.

(Reporting by Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala; Editing by Omar Mohammed and Jan Harvey)