The CEO and managing director of Air Tanzania, David Mattaka, has reacted promptly to reports that the Tanzanian Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) had suspended their AOC (Air Operator Certificate) and effectively grounded the airline on December 9.
Mr. Mattaka explained that the suspension did not arise from safety, training or maintenance issues but over discrepancies in documentation as required by global aviation bodies. During the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Operational Safety Audit reportedly some irregularities in documentation were discovered, but the airline has said most of the items pointed out at the time had been rectified and resolved, but that the deadline set was probably too tight to achieve a 100 percent compliance.
The CEO also left no doubt that the government’s failure of meeting their financial obligations towards the airline had substantially contributed as a key factor to the woes of Air Tanzania. This in fact has been reported repeatedly in this column in the past.
TCAA was tightlipped over the prospects of the Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) to resume flights within a fortnight as indicated by airline sources and the only available comment was that all submitted documentation by ATCL would be studied and evaluated before returning their operating permits, or else keep the airline grounded.
However, there is also indication from usually reliable aviation sources in Dar es Salaam, that a recent the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) audit of TCAA in November has raised alarm bells at the global body as it put the regulators on the spot themselves and left them little if any chance but to jump into (re)action mode to avoid being sanctioned by ICAO, as had happened in previous years to Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is speculated that Air Tanzania was probably an “easy target” to show some action towards the ICAO demands, but this saga is certainly not ending here or now, irrespective of the outcome of the ATCL suspension.
Intriguing were also comments from TCAA staff that all ATCL aircraft were “airworthy,” adding further suspicion of an ulterior motive by sections of the regulatory staff.
Meanwhile, the unions too waded into the argument with complaints over unpaid wages, but as usual their way over the top demands, made probably by simply not understanding a thing about aviation, are bound to be thrown out by the company and the political oversight with the contempt they deserve.