As the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) continues to spread across the world, Air Tanzania has announced that they are postponing the beginning of their planned flight routes to China until an unknown future date.

Just seven weeks ago, the carrier had announced plans to begin commencing longhaul flights to China beginning in February 2020. The first charter flight from Hangzhou had been expected to arrive in Tanzania on February 24, with a second planned for March 3. The charter programme is hoped to bring in 10,000 tourists per annum.

For now, however, the project is up in the air.

These charter flights had been organised in conjunction with the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) and Touchroad International Holdings Group (TIHG), a Chinese multinational involved in international trade, investment, cultural exchanges, tourism, industrial park development, and special economic zone construction. TIHG conducts business in more than 20 African countries, as well as Europe and America.

If the charter flights are able to resume in the future, they will be using Air Tanzania’s second B787-8, 5H-TCJ (msn 66133), which the airline acquired late last year. Prior to that, the state-owned carrier was reliant on its sole 262-seat B787-8, 5H-TCG (msn 64249), for all of its medium-haul services. According to the aviation schedules module, the aircraft are typically deployed on the airline’s 3x weekly services to Mumbai Int’l as well as 6x weekly on its flights to Mwanza.

The cancellation of the charter flights to Hangzhou are expected to have a negative impact on Tanzania’s tourism sector.