PILOTS’ REPRESENTATIVE TOLD TO GET FACTS RIGHT OR SHUT UP
It took less than a day for Precision Air, Tanzania’s leading airline, to respond to a range of allegations made by the Secretary General of the association of Tanzanian pilots, who took aim at the airline by alleging the employment of ‘unqualified foreign pilots over the employment of Tanzanians’. In a country notorious for the power of trade unions, using both fair and foul tricks, this outburst however was swiftly countered by Precision’s CEO Alfonse Kioko, who dismissed the allegations for what they are, baseless and short of the truth.
Kioko left no doubt that some of the association members, now claiming to have been ignored for being Tanzanian, were in fact sacked or left on their own accord from Precision for greener pastures abroad, but failing to make the new jobs stick too returned disgruntled and are now trying to use polemic talk and political pressure to find jobs again. Kioko told local media in Dar es Salaam: ‘Some of these pilots who are complaining left our company very unprofessionally by issuing 24-hour notices and sometimes abandoning our planes’ before adding: ‘Some of these pilots left for India to join Kingfisher which has since collapsed and they are back in the country looking for jobs’. The Director General of the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority Fadhil Manongi also rejected claims that TCAA was party to malpractices denying Tanzanian pilots work and stated in his own media release that TCAA was giving pilots, even foreign pilots, licenses only when proven to be proficient and meeting all required criteria for such a license. The swift and crushing response left PATP Secretary General Khalil Iqbal speechless only a day after mouthing off, probably realizing that he discredited himself by taking members’ allegations at face value and trying to score some cheap points, only to see the attempt backfire badly when the facts were put on the table by Precision and the TCAA. A regular aviation source from Dar es Salaam added: ‘Precision has a big challenge to find and recruit pilots able to fly their additional aircraft like all other airlines in our region. To become a captain or a first officer you need to be type rated on that type of aircraft, like the ATR or the B737, and they have to have a clean record and enough hours in command to be eligible for employment. If an airline cannot find enough qualified pilots at home they recruit from abroad. Kenya Airways does it, the new FastJet does it too. All our airlines in the region support pilot training and spend a lot of money on sponsorships to create the next generation of pilots. But no one wants to employ a rotten apple with known issues, either discipline or professional in nature. Pilots have to undergo simulator training twice a year to stay current with their ATPL’s and the CAA’s insist that is done at reputable training centres. They go inspect them before they are approved and have to meet specific standards. Now if a Tanzanian pilot fails such tests, what are they complaining about. Aviation cannot afford to employ incompetent pilots for safety reasons and that is one point no one should argue over’. And indeed, no one can or should argue over safety in aviation, something the pilots’ representative still seems to be struggling with. Watch this space for regular aviation news updates from the Eastern African region.