THE country airports are facing a fresh passengers handling challenge as airlines increase frequencies.
The passengers’ capacity challenge emerged a fresh on Sunday as Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) super jumbo takes to sky flying to Kilimanjaro and Mwanza twice a day from Dar es Salaam.
Daily News spot observation revealed that currently existing passenger terminal buildings are outdated and investment has to be made to increase the capacity and equipment.
Minister for Works, Transport and Communications Isaac Kamwelwe said the government has set aside fund for constructing a new terminal building at Mwanza Airport.
“We have set aside a fund in this financial year for the construction of 3.0 million passengers a year at Mwanza,” Mr Kamwelwe told a multitude of people who gathered at the airport to receive the ATCL’s Dreamliner on Sunday.
The minister, who toured the Mwanza Airport before receiving the Dreamliner, experienced the situation where passengers clogged the terminal building waiting for the final board in the morning to Dar. In the morning there were four flights operated by Precision Air, two of ATCL and FastJet to Dar from Mwanza.
Mr Kamwelwe, however, failed to mention the fund size and when the construction will begin. Tanzania Airport Authority Mwanza Airport Manager Mr Maulid Mohamed said the airport has 324 seats only.
“We have terminal building capacity challenge…I know the government has new plans to address the challenge,” Mr Mohamed, who just transferred from Arusha, said.
Kilimanjaro Airport Development Company (KADCO) acting Managing Director, Christopher Mukoma said airport was renovated recently at a tune of 39 million Euros.
The renovation increased the airport capacity from 500,000 passengers per year to 1.2 million. “At the moment we are handling 800,000 passengers a year," Mr Mukoma said, “our business is growing at an average of 12 per cent yearly”. The renovation involved improving terminal building, ramp and runway.
The Mwanza CCM Chairman, Mr Antony Diallo said despite Mwanza to be a hub for air transport for Lake Zone its passenger building is outdated.
“It is time to have a new terminal building. This one does not deserve to be for this airport at current pace,” Mr Diallo said. The Mwanza Airport runway has a length of 3.8 kilometres to lead all other country airports.
Mr Maulid said the second longest runway is KIA with 3.7 kilometres, followed by Songwe Airport 3.3 kilometres and Dar es Salaam 3.0 kilometres, despite factoring in altitudes from sea level.
“However, the altitude determined the distance of a runway,” Mr Mohamed said adding the higher the altitude the long the runway distance.
He said since Julius Nyerere International Airport is at low altitude, in airline business, has the longest runway.
Mr Mohamed “low pressure [at higher altitude] results in reduced air resistance thus making it tougher for the aircrafts to slow down,” Mr Mohamed said.
Other challenges were for Airco, ATCL ground handling firm, that had to physically count almost 260 passengers of Boeing 787-8 at Julius Nyerere International in Dar es Salaam and Mwanza Airport instead of using barcode system.
Daily News saw ATCL cabin crews walking the aisle to physically count passengers before taking off as Airco is yet to automate its system, which was a time consuming process.
Also security check, handled by TAA, should be revamped by increasing scanning machines and personnel at all airports to allow smoothly checking.