The Tanzanian government Tuesday said it will spend less than Tsh6 billion ($2.6 million) on maintenance of its two Bombardier Q400-8 aircraft in Canada.
The clarification came amid heavy criticism by Tanzanians on social media following reports quoting the Transport minister Mr Isack Kamwelwe as saying that it would cost Tsh13.9 billion ($6 million).
But Mr Kamwelwe told The Citizen that it must "have been an error" and that he could have misquoted himself.
“It seems the billion or million Tanzanian shillings and US dollars were not quoted properly, either by me or the one who published the news report,” he said.
“Actually, the cost for one aircraft cannot exceed Tsh3 billion ($1.3 million) in maintenance services,” the minister added.
Mr Kamwelwe maintained that the Bombardiers will be serviced in Canada in line with the agreement between the Tanzanian government and the aircraft manufacturer.
“If there are other options, I don’t know. I need to check with Air Tanzania (ATCL) management first,” he said.
In Africa, the Ethiopian Maintenance and Engineering Services, the largest aircraft maintenance centre on the continent, at its base in Addis Ababa offers maintenance of the Boeing 737, 757, 767, 777, 787, the Bombardier Q400, and Airbus 350.
Ethiopian Airlines has maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) agreements with African airlines including Congo Airlines, Guinea Airlines and Asky Airlines.
Other airlines in the continent with MRO facilities are South African Airways Technical (SAAT) and Kenya Airways Technical.
Mr Kamwelwe, however, noted that the government would set up a hangar at the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA), where some maintenance services would be carried out. “When this is done, the cost is expected to go down,’’ he said.
Air Tanzania has an active fleet of six aircraft, comprising of the two Bombardiers, a Bombardier Q300, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner and two Airbus A220-300.
-Reporting by The Citizen.