TCAA gives FastJet payment ultimatum


Inspite of denying liability for legacy debts, incurred by Fly540 Tanzania before FastJet took over that company in 2012, the trend is now clear that the Tanzanian authorities, led by the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority, are vigorously pursuing payment now and have issued FastJet’s local management with an either / or option, to pay or else to face the music. That can only mean that should within the stipulated timeframe no payment be made, that TCAA may pull the plug on the airline’s operations, or ground one or all of their aircraft, to ensure that for one no further debts accrue and secondly to compel the carrier to pay outstanding dues from current and past operations.

FastJet and Fly540 are involved in a series of bitter legal arguments, as clearly due diligence by the newcomers has catastrophically failed in making sure that legacy debts are the sole liability of Fly540 and provide such evidence to the respective officers at TCAA to have debt collection done at source.

FastJet launched operations between Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro, with onward flights to Mwanza, in December last year but faced intense criticism at the time over their sharpish marketing practices which advertised a 20 US Dollar fare without giving the traveling public a full picture of what they had to pay in add on charges like taxes, fees and even baggage handling, only – under immense pressure from the media – gradually and in piece meal steps revealing the true cost of what one had to pay to fly.

The euphoria therefore soon evaporated among Tanzanians when they realized what was really going on and the added problems with erstwhile friends and partners at Fly540 added to the glee the aviation industry in Eastern Africa enjoyed at the expense of the upstart, which could not turn full mouthed statements into lasting reality.

It is understood from a regular source in Dar es Salaam that by the end of business yesterday, 15th February, FastJet was to have submitted to TCAA a commitment and payment schedule to meet the outstanding debts, which were put at over 570 million Tanzania Shillings and over 95.000 US Dollars. Notably it was pointed out that the legacy debts from past Fly 540 Tanzania operations by November last year stood at about 345 million Tanzania Shillings and just under 82.000 US Dollars at the time, with the balance now claimed clearly a result of FastJet’s direct operations since December and indisputably theirs to pay.

Previously loudmouthed reactions by some of the managers have also become rather subdued if not gone shtumm altogether, probably realizing that they now need all the good will they can get and yet much of which has been wasted in the past weeks with sharpish reactions when their ways and means were exposed and challenged in open forum. Watch this space as action now seems imminent by TCAA to make sure FastJet either pays up or else and be sure to read the next twist in the tale of this sad saga in coming days.