Quid pro quo may derail Air Tanzania recovery


News are emerging in Tanzania that a contentious deal may have been struck between a Chinese company and the government, linking oil exploration concessions with investment in the national airline and other “goodies.”

This correspondent has in the past reported about links with a Chinese investment consortium coming to the rescue of Air Tanzania, after their controversial “divorce” with South African Airways. Not much was heard about it, however, since the Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) went into a tailspin over the suspension of its Air Operator Certificate (AOC).

The airline had over the busy Christmas and New Year period been grounded after the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority controversially withdrew the airline’s AOC over documentation discrepancies‚ but has since then resumed domestic flights, though not restarted their regional and continental routes.

Reports now emerging indicate that money has already been sunk into ATCL which allowed the carrier to acquire two Bombardier Q300 and place orders for a further two Q400, while leasing an Airbus A320 for their domestic and regional routes.

Should indeed a direct link exist between the alleged investment in ATCL and oil exploration concessions, it would be likely to raise passionate questions across the East African nations political and society spectrum.

More details are expected to emerge when the China’s president and a large governmental and non-governmental delegation will visit Tanzania later this month, at which stage there may be some clarity just how linked (or not) all the deals on the table indeed are.