On December 21st, Air Tanzania took delivery of the first of two Airbus A220-300s they had on order. The aircraft, registration 5H-TCH and named Dodoma (after the nation’s capital), makes Air Tanzania the first airline in Africa and the fifth in the world to operate the A220. Air Tanzania ordered the aircraft (then known as the Bombardier CS300) in December of 2016. The order, which also included two of Bombardier’s Q400 turboprops, was valued at around $200 million.
Executives from both Air Tanzania and the Tanzanian Government Flight Agency (which owns the aircraft and leases them to the airline) have praised the A220 and the benefits it will bring to the airline. The A220 will not only allow Air Tanzania to offer an improved passenger experience on its existing routes, but also to launch routes to India and the Middle East.
Part of a modern fleet
Air Tanzania is a relatively small airline with a low profile on the international stage. Indeed, it is not the airline one would immediately think of as an early customer for a new aircraft. Yet it currently operates a remarkably modern fleet. Along with the two Q400s mentioned above, Air Tanzania recently took delivery of a single Boeing 787-8 in July of 2018. This aircraft will allow the airline to pursue long-range intercontinental routes, currently beyond their capabilities as an airline.
According to FlightRadar24, this 787, registration 5H-TCG, is flying between Air Tanzania’s hub in Dar es Salaam and Mwanza.
A Good Sign for Bombardier?
This delivery is an important milestone for the A220 program, and by extension for Bombardier, even though it now retains only a minority stake in the A220 program. The position of the aircraft previously known as the Bombardier CSeries has been on the rebound since Airbus’ investment. At the 2018 Farnborough Airshow, Jetblue ordered 60 A220-300s, a major deal. An additional 60 aircraft were ordered by a planned US airline known only as Moxy.
Yet Bombardier’s problems persist. In November, faced with slow sales, they sold the Q400 line to Viking Air, and made other cuts. This is not to say there’s no good news for Bombardier’s aircraft division. Orders for their Global 6000 and 7500 business jets continue to seem promising. Nevertheless, it is clear that Bombardier’s problems are far from over.