AIR TANZANIAS PAST SINS COME HOME TO HAUNT THEM
Parliamentarians opposed to the constant need to bail out ATCL and having to pay for the irresponsible decisions made by top management, have unearthed yet more liabilities, incurred through guarantees given by the Tanzanian government, in connection with past aircraft deals.
The stricken airline, in deep financial doldrums but also without a single plane to fly and earn revenue, some time ago, apparently against the advice of experts and opposition even from within the airline itself, entered into a lease deal for an A320, luring government at the time, possible by misrepresenting the full facts, into giving a guarantee for the transaction.
This leaves according to the committee on parastatal organizations the government liable to pay over 100 billion Tanzania Shillings and perhaps even greater liabilities, as ATCL seems to have sent the plane for maintenance in France in 2008, but failed to clear the bills now standing at over 3 million US Dollars. This is consistent to ATCLs handling of major maintenance of a Bombardier Q300, which government had to bail out from an imminent auction in South Africa, after ATCL had failed to heed any notices to pay or else, but only months after getting the aircraft back, it crashed two weeks ago during a botched take off attempt from the Kigoma aerodrome.
Said a regular source from Dar es Salaam when contacted to give his input: I have said it even the other day, this is a bottomless pit and the longer we wait the more comes out. It is time our parliament calls an end to any funds given from our limited tax revenues and waste on ATCL. Let them be liquidated and the final audits will surely reveal more rot and more concealed liabilities. At least that is then the end of them and their failed managers cannot waste ever more money. What issue does our government have to invest in Precision Air. That is a thriving airline, will make money and can do Tanzania proud. ATCL is only one big and never ending embarrassment.
Other aviation observers in the region claimed they needed to see the lease contract to understand better if ATCL was under the deal liable and responsible for maintenance of the aircraft, as can be the case, while in other lease arrangements it is the lessor which has to maintain the plane to ensure continued airworthiness. Said one periodic contributor from Nairobi: I cannot put it beyond those managers at the time, desperate to get a jet aircraft on their register, that they may have been a bit negligent when doing the contract. In many cases it is up to the lessor to pay for maintenance and even provide an alternative aircraft. This does not seem to be the case from what you explained. No alternate aircraft was ever provided when the Airbus went into heavy maintenance. Lease deals are complicated at times. You pay higher commitment fees and monthly charges when maintenance is included but a lot less when the operator is responsible for those duties. Optically such a deal can look attractive but when the bills for maintenance arrive, the whole cost suddenly becomes visible for everyone. If that happened, then it is purely a bad management decisions taken and those who caused this loss should be made to answer.
Oooops comes to mind, once again. Watch this space as the saga of ATCL continues unabated as ever more bad news emerge the deeper people dig.