Dar seeks funds in bid to revamp flag carrier Air Tanzania

Tuesday May 3 2016

An Air Tanzania Company Limited plane at the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam. PHOTO | FILE

An Air Tanzania Company Limited plane at the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam. PHOTO | FILE 

By APOLINARI TAIRO

Tanzania is seeking funds to purchase four aircrafts in a bid to revive its ailing national carrier whose sole leased airplane only flies 78 passengers.

Tanzania’s Transport Minister Prof Makame Mbarawa reiterating President John Magufuli’s promise to revamp the cash-strapped Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) said the government will buy two planes this year and two more by 2018.

The Tanzania Investment Bank (TIB) will provide $20 million loan to the government as part of the money to purchase two airplanes for domestic flights as it continues to seek investors.

Last week, Russian aircraft maker Irkut Corporation signed a memorandum of understanding with ATCL for a possible supply of short and medium-range aircrafts.

Prof Mbarawa said the government had also invited aviation companies from France, Brazil and Canada to chart out modalities that would allow the smooth purchase of new aircrafts.

In March, Tanzania and Kuwait signed their first air transport agreement that is expected to bolster economic ties and enable civil aviation experts from the two countries to cooperate on technical expertise.

“Our people will be able to learn from Kuwait and vice-versa. When direct flights become operational we will hopefully receive more tourists and investors from the Arabian Gulf state,” the minister was quoted by the State-owned newspaper Daily News.

Yousef Al Fouzam, the director-general of Kuwait’s Directorate of Civil Aviation, at the signing of the agreement, said he would persuade Kuwait Airways and Jazeera Airways to launch direct flights to Dar.

A restructured ATCL is likely to benefit through code sharing and connections to domestic flights, once direct flights are operational.

The troubled carrier lost all its regional and international routes after grounding its aircraft which included Nairobi, Johannesburg, Jeddah, Milan, Frankfurt, London and Mumbai.

Currently, ATCL operates a single Bombadier CRJ-100 Jet aircraft that accommodates 50 passengers for its domestic routes.