KAMPALA, Uganada (eTN) – Tanzania’s largest private airline last week has now confirmed that it has suspended the Mwanza to Bukoba route, as part of a move to phase out its old’ LET 410 19-seater aircraft.
Precision Air’s now commonly used ATR 42 and ATR 72 aircraft are presently not able to use the Bukoba aerodrome owing to the length of the runway there, which does not allow the airline safe operational parameters on landing and take off.
Precision Air, in which Kenya Airways holds a 49 percent stake, is IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certified. As such, the Tanzania carrier has to maintain the highest operational and safety standards.
Even Kenya Airways has in the past suspended operations in Kenya to Kisumu and Lamu over safety concerns, until the problems with the runways were rectified by the Kenya Airports Authority.
East Africa is presently embarking on an infrastructural investment program, which will benefit mainly secondary and tertiary aerodromes and airfields, allowing for some hope that the Tanzanian government will indeed lengthen the Bukoba runway in due course.
Meanwhile however, regular passengers on the route and the business communities in Mwanza and Bukoba have already appealed strongly to the Tanzanian government to extend the runway immediately to allow for larger aircraft, so that scheduled air services can be resumed without much delay and interruption.
Alternatively, they are also seeking other airlines with smaller planes to continue this vital air link between the two municipalities across the expands of Lake Victoria.
Precision Air has served the route for the past decade as the sole scheduled operator, although other airlines operated charter flights on demand. A spokesperson for Precision Air has expressed regret having to take this step, which, it was pointed out, is hopefully only a temporary measure.