Saturday, April 14, 2012

Air Tanzania’s CEO statement seen as “feeble and unworthy”

 Aviation observers in the region reacted with some scorn to the response by Air Tanzania’s Acting CEO Paul Chizi to the most recent accident of the airline’s single plane, a Bombardier Q300, which crashed on takeoff at Kigoma, tearing off the undercarriage, part of a wing and an engine, besides inflicting hull damage to the aircraft.

The announcement that it would take at least three weeks before any flights would be resumed, was met with questions what aircraft ATCL was proposing to use, as the airline had not a single operating plane left to fly with. Also met with skepticism were claims that Air Tanzania was a safe airline, considering the loss two years ago of a B737-200 in Mwanza and now this latest accident in Kigoma, although thankfully no passengers at either incident were killed or seriously injured.

Observers were also more than a little amused by Mr. Chizi’s attempt to explain that the airline was far from collapse as it still had human resources and an air operator certificate in place, which allows continued operations. He also defended requests made by the airline to inject US$200 million by the Tanzanian government to acquire planes on lease while also seeking other investors in what has turned into a Herculean task.

A loss adjustor from the airline’s insurers has since arrived in Tanzania to assess the damage, which other experts have already qualified as a very likely write off in view of the extensive damage the aircraft has sustained during the crash. Said a regular contributor on aviation matters from Arusha overnight: “This feeble statement shows what is fundamentally wrong with ATCL. They lack leadership, they lack vision, and most of all, they lack planes and money. With no aircraft now, which can last several weeks or even months as we have seen in the past, they will have a lot of expenses and not one shilling of revenue coming in. That again needs a bail out from government with our tax money. Suppliers will not be paid, old debts will not be settled. It is a big mess and it should be brought to an end.

“We have a thriving aviation sector in Tanzania, and if ATCL is wound up, it will hardly be felt. Their good staff will find employment in the sector, because there is demand for pilots, technicians, airline experts. The latest I heard is that Kenya’s Jetlink will be setting up in Tanzania also making for more competition. However, will ATCL become a force in the aviation industry again? No one believes it except those who are paid to believe, and once their salaries are not paid, you wait what they will say next.”

Source: Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Uganda

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