Air Tanzania does it again – but not in a good way


Only weeks after making full mouthed statements when the company brought in a leased B737-500 – a move by the way immediately questioned by aviation analysts as this Boeing type is no longer considered a state of the art aircraft -have news emerged from Dar es Salaam that Air Tanzania had a change of heart and mind and is trying to ditch the leased aircraft and find a way out of the contract.
The news left supporters and advocates of Air Tanzania once again reeling, as flights between Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Mwanza were immediately suspended along with a short nondescript statement that ticket holders would be rebooked to other airlines. ‘We have said this so often, that company must be wound up. They are making a mockery out of aviation. Those in government still thinking that anything material has changed at Air Tanzania now better think again. A few weeks ago they make big announcements, talk of even more aircraft and now this. They tried to steal passengers from other airlines by offering ridiculous fares to JRO and Mwanza before they realized they are losing a lot of money and cannot sustain operations. Government this time must not use tax payer money to bail them out. The management of ATCL failed the country again and they should never have leased this old plane. Let market mechanisms take over now. There are private airlines which can deliver, Precision had ordered new planes even to offer more flights within Tanzania and there are others too willing to start up an airline for as long as our government not constantly tilts the playing field for misunderstood national pride. What our country needs is a strong airline which can help bring more visitors to Tanzania and not wasting money and effort to keep a national airline alive which is only a national disgrace’ roared a regular aviation source from Dar es Salaam in a mail yesterday, when sharing the news development.

From comments made by the airlines acting CEO Capt. Milton Lazaro, it is understood that the airline has been struggling to meet lease payments in the face of low revenues accomplished with the ageing plane. Subsequently the company had little option but to suspend the contract, in the process using parliamentary committee observations that the required procurement procedures may have been breached as a reason, not however absolving them of the liabilities under the lease agreement. A Gulf based aviation source therefore was quick to point out that regardless of the internal Tanzanian requirements and politics, Aero Vista has a valid contract for the lease and could insist on full payment plus penalties, which could leave ATCL in a similar position as was the case when inept management leased an A320 some years ago. Under that shady deal ATCL incurred a mega million US Dollar debt which government now has to settle and discovery of which led to the sacking of ATCL management and of the responsible minister a few months ago after parliament dug up the dirt on that transaction. A short statement from the company expressed regret over the development, not something the passengers now affected care to hear for sure, more so as the website makes not only no mention of the development but still continues to mislead the general public by saying: ‘Air Tanzania is the national airline of Tanzania, with its head office in Dar es Salaam. Its main base is Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) and it flies all over across many destinations across Tanzania. Where exactly are you flying and with what my dear ATCL asks this correspondent in closing. Watch this space for regular and breaking news from Eastern Africas aviation industry, always timely, always telling the stories as they break and evolve.