VIRGIN HEADING TO DAR ES SALAAM
6 weeks after leaving Nairobi, for a number of reasons given in public none of which at the time made much sense, are news just breaking that Virgin will be flying to Dar es Salaam from early 2013, very likely in combination with a stop at Kilimanjaro. It is also understood that this time the airline got the right slots, making for perfect connections from and to the United States via London Heathrow, something which was a major problem for the flights to Nairobi which did not connect easily into the Virgin US network.
A source contacted in the UK feigned surprise at the question, eventually conceding that ‘there might be plans’ before insisting on absolutely protecting the identity, as obviously this early breaking news story will be giving the game away for competitors also flying to Tanzania.
A source at Swissport in Dar es Salaam, likely to be chosen as Virgin’s handling agent, also showed surprise about the news already getting out and would not comment, this again telling more than enough and being sufficient to publish the breaking news.
Virgin is an arch rival of British Airways, which is also flying to Dar es Salaam, and will very likely offer fares below the level of BA, triggering a bonzana for tourists from the US but also starting a head on collision with British Airways which will undoubtedly have to respond in kind.
The new route will be a major coup for Tanzania’s tourism industry, with all the associated promotional activities, as it is recalled with what creative marketing Virgin started its flights to Nairobi a few years ago, and will benefit the safari sector as well as some of the very exclusive beach resorts on Zanzibar and other islands. At the same time it will be depressing news for the Kenyan tourism industry, where stakeholders will be scratching their heads trying to figure out what went wrong for Virgin in Nairobi and what the true reasons for pulling out from Kenya were, only to find out within weeks that Virgin will be flying to neighbouring Tanzania from early 2013.
Watch this space for more information on this exciting development and for breaking aviation news from the Eastern African region, told first time and again.