DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (eTN) – At last, Tanzania’s embattled national airline Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) has been banned to operate any flight within and outside Tanzania, at the same time had its operations certificate revoked by Tanzania’s aviation authorities.
Reports from Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) said the embattled and loss- making national airline was not air-worth after a number of discrepancies and operational failures were discovered within ATCL management this month.
Aviation authorities revoked ATCL’s flying certificate on Tuesday this week (December 8) and forced the airline to ground its planes for an unknown period.
It has been known that ATCL failed to meet the International Air Transport Association (IATA) flying standards and regulations after an inspection by IATA and TCAA aviation experts who jotted down more than 500 operational gaps within the airline.
IATA wrote to Tanzania aviation authorities looking for indefinite suspension of ATCL’s flying certificate until the time that the airline solves its operational problems.
Among noted problems found within ATCL were poor inspection of its aircraft, lack of pilots and aircraft engineers, among others.
ATCL’s chief executive officer Mr. David Mattaka was quoted saying that the airline was temporarily suspended, with hopes to resume flights soon.
But travel agents in Tanzania’s major cities of Dar es Salaam, Mwanza and Arusha were busy directing their clients to look for alternative airlines for both domestic and African flights.
Mostly hit by ATCL’s suspension were tourists with connecting flights between the capital city of Dar es Salaam and the northern tourist town of Arusha, which greatly depended on ATCL flights.
But most travelers booked Precisonair Services, a vibrant and fast growing private airline that for recent years posed competitive challenges to the government owned ATCL.
Most of ATCL routes are domestic with little hopes to see the government run airline entering African airspace outside Tanzania.
The troubled Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) had its management contract with South African Airways (SAA) terminated almost two years ago, giving a clear way to the Tanzanian government to take its total control, waiting for outright investor.
The airline has been a big burden to Tanzanian taxpayers. Passengers have been always complaining of poor services despite higher ticket prices set out by the airline’s management, while the Tanzanian government subsidies its operations with US$ 500,000 every month.
Tanzanian Transport Minister Shukuru Kawambwa once said ATCL should operate commercially while the government is looking for an appropriate investor to take over the most troubled airline in Africa.
This loss-making airline operates mostly domestic flights with a Boeing 737 on its domestic flights and an Air Bus for its East and Southern African regional flights.