Where did the money for Air Tanzania’s second CRJ100 come from?


(Posted 18th February 2015)

A second Bombardier CRJ100, reportedly leased from South Africa, has joined Air Tanzania last weekend. The additional aircraft is expected to help the airline to resume some of their scheduled flights which, after their Bombardier Q300 went into heavy maintenance, had to be halted.

A regular source from Dar es Salaam confirmed that ATCL will now add more flights to Kigoma, which will reportedly be served daily, while the route to the Comoros and to Mtwara, Tanzania’s ‘gas capital’ will see the number of flights raised to six per week.

No information could be obtained about the resumption of flights to, among other airports, Mwanza and Kilimanjaro.

Voices from competing airlines were united in condemning what appears to be another government bailout, as in the words of one regular commentator ‘… how can they afford to make downpayment for a leased aircraft and meet the monthly charges. They cannot pay their creditors and now they find the money for another leased plane? It is out tax money! These constant bailouts of ATCL with tax payer money tilt the playing field because Air Tanzania can run up almost unlimited losses over which any other airline would be closed down’.

The erstwhile national airline, now a mere shadow of former days, is embattled over huge debts and is facing the real possibility to have their headquarters auctioned off to pay creditors which, according to binding court orders were due to be paid last year already.

On domestic routes does Air Tanzania face strong competition from Fastjet, which has in terms of passengers grown into Tanzania’s largest airline. Flights from Dar es Salaam to Mbeya, Kilimanjaro and Mwanza and the newly launched route from Kilimanjaro to Mwanza have left Air Tanzania with comparably few passengers on what used to be their strongest revenue earners. On other routes, like to Mtwara, does ATCL face competition from Precision Air which operates a fleet of ATR aircraft well suited to fly to secondary airports and tertiary aerodromes.

The new Tanzanian Transport Minister, when taking over his new portfolio, recently made stinging comments about Air Tanzania’s debts and yet, to the consternation of many, was the money apparently found to pay for the lease of the additional CRJ100 jet.

Watch this space for breaking and regular aviation news from across Eastern Africa.

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