Air Tanzania back in the skies soon

(Daily News) AIR Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) is expected to resume its operations next month after the government had settled bills amounting to 1.3bn/- for repair of its aircraft in South Africa.

The ATCL remained out of business since March, after its sole aircraft – Dash 8 Q300 – flew to South Africa for major maintenance particularly a « C Check » (overhauling).

This was said in Dar es Salaam on Thursday by the ATCL Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr Paul Chizi, during the training on change of employees’ mindset ahead of resumption of operations.

He stated that some experts with the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) would next week fly to South Africa to inspect the ATCL aircraft before issuing a certificate of air worthiness initiating flight operations.

According to him, the ATCL would lease a standby aircraft from one Kenyan air firm to serve only when the number of passengers has either increased or in case ATCL plane develops technical problems.

Mr Chizi said that within three months, the ATCL would hire two Canadian Regional Jet (CRJ-200) aircraft from a foreign firm in Dubai, with capacity of carrying 50 passengers which were cost effective in terms of speed and fuel efficient.

He said the CRJ-200 aircraft was capable of cutting down time by half in a distance covered by other models.

« We are going cautiously to evade plunging the company into past mistakes which caused massive losses, » he added.

The two CRJ-200 aircraft would operate for two years before introducing other three from Embraer 170 which would operate for three years.

Having observed their performances, then ATCL would be in a position to purchase them.

Mr Chizi noted that under a five-year plan, the company aims also to undertake some mechanical services by itself to cut down costs of flying its aircraft to South Africa for maintenance.

He said the competitions in the industry was stiff, thus cutting down unnecessary expenditures was a top priority.

For example, the said, in few months to come ATCL was expecting to terminate a contract costing 12,000 US dollars monthly signed five years ago with a South African firm for creating a programme to facilitate various company transactions. The service could be rendered by a local firm at a low price.

In the meantime, he said, the airline intends to restructure its workforce from the level of directors, managers down to the supporting staff and probably some employees would be laid down in due course as a way of slashing down expenditures.

« We would recruit them again in due time as needs arise and as the company grows, but at the moment it is a loss to keep them, » he added.

Meanwhile, the government has attached many interests on the Aviation and Allied Business Leadership Conference which is set to start in Dar es Salaam on Sunday, saying it will help in the plans to revive the dilapidated air company.

The Minister for Transport, Mr Omari Nundu said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that conference participants will deliberate on difficulties and probable solutions to challenges facing aviation in Africa, in order to make strong positive impact on the development of aviation in the continent.

« We are glad that this 17th edition of the aviation allied business leadership conference is being held in our country this year and since the government is planning to revive its air company, we will present our case and hopefully we will get ideas on the way forward, » he said.

The three-day meeting is expected to be attended by about 250 stakeholders in the African aviation industry.President Jakaya Kikwete is expected to officiate at the opening.

Mr Nundu said that this year’s conference comes at a time that Tanzania’s aviation industry is in dire need of a turn-around and that it will be marked under the theme, « Air Transport In Africa: Strengthening Leadership, Sustaining Growth. »

He noted that the theme is a continuity of the 16th edition of the conference held in Gaborone, Botswana, under the theme, « Air Transport in Africa: The Challenge of Leadership. »

« This year’s conference is extending the reaches of the last year’s efforts of making leadership development the centre-piece of air transport development in Africa, » he said.

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