Sunday 23 December 2018

TANZANIA: Air Tanzania Pilots Will Not Eat Christmas, Must Serve The People.

After the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) said it could revoke FastJet’s operation licence, the government has cancelled Christmas and New Year leave for pilots flying the national carrier, to fill the gap left by the budget airline.

All pilots flying the national carrier aeroplanes should call off their annual leave to serve the people, said the Minister for Transport Isaack Kamwelwe.

Fastjet suspended its flights until the end of January.

According to Mr Kamwelwe, passengers flying to various destinations in Tanzania during the Christmas and New Year festival could suffer following the suspension.

He said that the government will ensure that all passengers booked with Air Tanzania are able to fly to their destinations.

TCAA announced its intention to revoke FastJet's operation licence, citing the airline's cancellation of flights and the huge debt it owes contractors and the government.

Aviation authorities in Dar es Salaam said late Monday that FastJet had failed to address operational issues which led to severe flight disruptions.

TCCA issued the airline a 28-day notice to submit its financial and business plans or have its licence revoked.

TCAA director-general Hamza Johari asked all service providers that Fastjet owes money to send their invoices to the authority for action.

FastJet launched its flights in 2012, attracting a huge passenger base due to its affordable ticket prices. The airline began facing financial challenges after one of the firm’s original owners, FastJet Plc which held a 49 per cent stake withdrew. The airline was sold to Tanzania investors in November 2014.

Air Tanzania on the other hand was launched in 1977 to take over the defunct East African Airways. The government increased its aircraft to five, boosting business.

After acquiring its Boeing 787- 8 Dreamliner this year, Air Tanzania plans to launch a new route to Guangzhou, China via Bangkok, Thailand three times a week, with return fares pegged at between $650 and $700.

Meanwhile, Air Tanzania Limited (ATCL) dismissed reports suggesting that the national carrier could be making losses on its regional routes.

The CEO of the airline, Mr Ladislaus Matindi, said the fears raised on social media over low numbers of passengers were unfounded.

A debate ensued on social media on Monday after a photo was posted on Twitter by a person who claimed to have been a passenger on TC 214 Dar es Salaam/Kilimanjaro/Entebbe flight, with a caption claiming that the plane had only six passengers and six crew members.

On a full flight, a Bombardier Q400 aircraft can carry up to 90 passengers.

It is not about the ability to manage routes but poor understanding of the air transport from stakeholders as they have high expectations on ATCL performance, Mr Matindi said.

Some of those who contributed in the debate questioned the national carrier’s ability to profitably operate the regional routes, including the Dar es Salaam/Kilimanjaro/Entebbe route, which the aircraft was operating.

This is crazy if every country wants to have its own national airline. The whole EAC should just dissolve their airlines and be absorbed by the Ethiopian Airlines,” @RKI2011 tweeted.

“This is when you invest in a business without having a proper business plan,” another twitter user @MsTayanah commented.

When we were leaving Dar es Salaam, it was like 90 per cent full; when we stopped in Kilimanjaro, only four passengers remained on board, and later two boarded going to Entebbe, said another person who said he was a passenger on the same flight.

However, quelling profitability fears, the ATCL boss sounded optimistic.

Remember, we inaugurated the route in August this year. Build-up of passengers on a new route is normal in air transport when entering new market. In fact, we have been performing very well and picking up day after day.

The photo shows a flight from Kilimanjaro to Entebbe being part of the Dar to Entebbe route. We had a full flight from Dar to Kilimanjaro and few passengers to Entebbe, he added.

He said ATCL gets more passengers on Dar/Kilimanjaro/Entebbe on weekends.

In fact, we have 37 passengers today out of Entebbe and 37 passengers to Entebbe, he revealed.

Tourism Observer

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