The Tanzanian Minister for Work, Transport and Communications, Prof. Makame Mbarawa, suspended the Air Tanzania’s CEO and the Director of Operations yesterday afternoon.
The reason given was that the two had allegedly selected an unqualified pilot to go for training to become type rated for the recently bought Bombardier Q400NGs, prompting the ire and wrath of the minister.
The two new planes are reportedly due for delivery as of September this year and due haste was needed to select and send pilots for training.
It could not be independently verified what issues the Minister has with the one selected pilot he singled out or if that pilot is indeed lacking qualifications.
“Buying two new planes is laudable. However, Air Tanzania is saddled with massive debts, and unless those are cleared by government first, the airline will continue to struggle financially. Creditors may anytime ask courts to attach assets which has happened before. I know they are trying to optically boost the airline and then find a strategic investor, but hoodwinking those into deals is no longer as easy as it used to be. All attempts to partly privatize ATCL have failed in the past. Main reasons then were the level of debts and the influence of the union in that airline. Nothing as far as I am concerned has changed. The airline should be liquidated to use taxpayer money for more urgent causes or else merge them with Precision Air so that we have one sound strong national airline and not a flying financial wreck,” a source commented.
Meanwhile, Fastjet Tanzania has emerged as the country’s leading airline in terms of passengers, followed by Precision Air, and with Air Tanzania trailing as a very distant third. Other leading local airlines, operating on domestic routes and to the national parks, are Auric Air, Coastal, and Regional Air.