Air Tanzania plans Bombardier purchases


(eTN) – Within hours of the announcement that Precision Air’s IPO had attracted less than 43 percent of a share take up, Air Tanzania (ATCL) made waves with an announcement that they would hold more talks with Canadian manufacturer Bombardier for the purchase of up to 8 aircraft.

Presently, ATCL operates a single Bombardier Q300 turboprop aircraft but has stated the intention of purchasing a range of jets with the CRJ200 and the larger CRJ700 series at the forefront of the plans. Several airlines in the wider region are already flying these “city jets” successfully, and the size of 50 seats for the CRJ200 is considered to be just right for an airline in a market already strongly competed over by private-sector rivals and regional carriers.

ATCL would require guarantees though from the Tanzanian government, if a major deal is to be struck, though the Canadian export agency has already indicated they would be keen to support a package, as long as a government guarantee from Dar es Salaam would be given for the purchase of both pre-owned, as well as brand-new planes.

Bombardier also manufactures turbo props, the type of aircraft needed to restart domestic operations in earnest, and their Q300 and Q400 series would compete with mainly Precision Air’s ATR fleet and a range of other turboprops operated by rival Coastal Aviation. ATR 42 and ATR 72 are the proven workhorses and fleet backbone for Precision and are considered very suitable in the climatic and geographical conditions across East Africa’s largest country. Manufacturer rivals, Embraer from Brazil, however, are also reported to be pushing their own models, as they also offer both turboprop as well as smaller jet aircraft like the E170 and E190 series.

Considering the current economic climate though, in Eastern Africa and the world at large, reviving ATCL will take more than just a new strategic plan printed on glossy paper, including the ability to secure government funding, something which often lacked in the past and led to the decline of the national airline in the first place.