(eTN) – Tanzania’s aviation sector is set to convene in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday and Thursday this week to discuss opportunities and constraints for the airline industry, bringing an estimated 200 experts from Tanzania and the wider region together. Also expected are representatives from ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization), IATA (International Air Transport Association), and other global aviation bodies. On the agenda is the drafting of a new aviation policy, long overdue and urgently needed to spell out, among other issues, the contentious relationship between government and the aviation private sector, considering the never ending saga of public resources and taxpayers money being pumped into moribund erstwhile national airline Air Tanzania.
It is also expected that a government-commissioned study into the aviation industry will be presented to stakeholders at the meeting. A regular aviation source from Dar es Salaam had this to say overnight: “It is high time we, the stakeholders running the industry, have a chance to be heard. This is an opportunity to also find out why our government is wasting taxpayer money for Air Tanzania, when we have a functioning aviation company, which has stepped up when ATCL [Air Tanzania Company Ltd.] almost folded and let us down. Precision now flies to more places and more often than ATCL ever did. Why disturb them with such interventions? Let the market take care of it. Let our government give total support to Precision for new routes. Let them invest in Precision where our tax money at least can earn dividends while at ATCL is a bottomless pit, a snake pit, also to be sure with all the union troubles and political fiefdoms and protectionism they created.
“I also say we need to openly discuss the issue of EAC [East African Community] airlines coming into Tanzania. We have to reciprocate how easy it is for us to fly into Uganda or Kenya, and we cannot continue to always be seen as an obstacle to integration. We have to take the bull by the horns, compromise, and in the process, get new opportunities. Aviation is an expensive business to run, and just by isolating ourselves we cannot meet future challenges.”
On the upside, it must be mentioned that Tanzania, in line with resolutions taken on the EAC level, have started to invest in upgrading the country’s main international gateways in Dar es Salaam, Arusha/Moshi (JRO [Kilimanjaro International Airport]), and Zanzibar,while equally upgrading the lower levels of secondary airports and aerodromes across the sprawling country, where air transport often is the only reliable way to travel to and from.