PRECISION AIR OUTLINES FLEET DEVELOPMENT PLANS
Tanzania’s leading airline, Precision Air, has yesterday outlined their plans for the next 5 years in regard to additional aircraft acquisition. Presently operating a mixed fleet of 10 aircraft including ATR 42, ATR 72 and B737, Precision is set to more than double the number of planes on their register by 2016 as it aims to turn itself into Tanzania’s quasi national airline, ready to compete on domestic, regional, continental and international routes.
Founded in 1987 by local entrepreneur Michael Sirima the airline started humbly as a crop spraying specialist airline before branching out into safari charters, eventually starting scheduled flights to the national parks before in 2003 Kenya Airways acquired a 49 percent stake in the company.
Precision has been set for an IPO on the Dar es Salaam stock exchange, but in line with general governmental vagueness and ‘blowing hot and cold’ over supporting this award winning venture, here too it is dragging its feet, ostensibly over a allegedly ‘fake’ winding up petition which gave the DSE the excuse to delay the IPO, in which both Mr. Sirima and Kenya Airways will substantially reduce their own share holdings in favour of having Tanzanian individual and institutional investors come on board. In fact, Kenya Airways will ‘tune down’ to a 33 percent holding, giving Tanzanian investors an overall holding of 66 percent.
Only last month was it revealed that the new multi million US Dollar hangar built by Precision at the Dar es Salaam ‘Julius Nyerere International Airport’ lacked a taxi way connection to the rest of the airport, an omission for which the Tanzania Airport Authority is solely responsible and for which it has publicly apologized.
Still, lingering sentiments within sections of the Tanzanian government make it difficult for Precision to obtain unqualified and unconditional support by government to become THE national airline of Tanzania, as remnants of the country’s strict command economy days still hope to revive Air Tanzania, a now moribund airline with NO aircraft available to operate any flights, riddled by allegations of shady deals, dictated to by trade unions and for all intent and purpose now at its end.
In a related development, he finance raised by the issue of new shares – as and when the DSE will finally give the green light to go ahead with it – will be dedicated to finance further expansion, acquiring more aircraft and expanding destinations and frequencies. Aircraft orders to be placed soon after the IPO has been concluded are thought to include more state of the art ATR models and B737NG jets to be deployed on more distant continental routes.
Watch this space for the most up to date information on aviation developments from Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean region.