TRANSPORT MINISTER DEFENDS FUNDING FOR AILING AIR TANZANIA
At the launch of the Transport Week on Wednesday this week, part of the ongoing preparations and celebrations of Tanzanias 50th independence anniversary, has the Minister for Transport Mr. Omar Nundu defended the 16 billion Tanzanian Shillings the government has poured into the financially and operationally stricken airline. It is understood that part of these funds have been used to pay for a long standing bill for heavy maintenance of the airlines Bombardier Q 300 aircraft, which had been flown to South Africa early in the year but failed to return due to lack of funds to pay the bills.
The remaining funds are understood to be used for recurrent expenditure, paying other long overdue bills and hopefully settling some of the claims by travel agents who never got money for tickets paid up already back when the airline stopped their flights to South Africa a couple of years ago. There is no certainty though over claims by the minister that the funding will be sufficient to lease one or more planes for ATCL, as lessors are now weary of the airlines pathetic record on meeting financial obligations, especially since Air Tanzania has been thrown out of the IATA clearing house over their default on payments.
Calls for Tanzanians to get financially involved with ATCL rather than waiting for a foreign investment consortium which may never materialize by the Minister however caused consternation amongst aviation circles, coming so close to the long overdue launch of Precision Airs IPO. There is strong suspicion that the Tanzanian government is still stuck in their post independence socialist mindset and fundamentally opposed to truly opening up the aviation sector in the country, and rather hang on to a near dead corporate entity like ATCL than fully supporting the private sector, which in recent years has indeed kept Tanzania connected to the region and beyond as Air Tanzania failed the country time and again.
The timing of the remarks surely was either very unfortunate, which would be bad, or in a rather more sinister way deliberately made so as to cast further doubt on the planned IPO of Precision Air, which would be very bad indeed but no surprise considering past official slaps dished out. A timely reminder to differentiate between what governments in our region say and what they do.