Air Tanzania indefinitely shelves flights to South Africa

Sunday October 6 2019

 

By Alex Malanga @ChiefMalanga news@thecitizen.co.tz

Dar es Salaam. The Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) will with effect from next Monday start refunding all tickets sold for the Dar es Salaam-Johannesburg-Dar es Salaam route.

National carrier’s managing director Ladislaus Matindi said in a statement seen by The Citizen that the route has been suspended indefinitely.

The reason for the suspension of the route was not disclosed but the ATCL boss told Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL) that they were preparing for a comeback.

Recently, Works, Transport and Communication minister Isack Kamwelwe announced the temporary suspension of the ATCL’s scheduled flights to South Africa due to xenophobic violence.

“Our flight was booked for until December. ATCL regrets to inform you that effective from October 7, 2019 onwards, we will refund all customers,” Mr Matindi said yesterday in a telephone interview.

In a statement, he said the refund process would be conducted as per the International Air Transport Association (Iata) and ATCL policies.

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He said Iata agencies should apply refunds through billing and settlement plan (BSP) and advice revenue accounting numbers. Mr Matindi added that non-Iata agencies should apply refund through ATCL portal.

“All travel agents must ensure customers’ contact numbers are properly insert into the booking profile,” he reminded. “This is to avoid inconveniences that may arise during flight interruptions or any information that might need to go directly to the customer.”

The maiden Dar es Salaam- Johannesburg route was launched on June 28 this year, with Mr Matindi saying a return tickets was sold at a promotion price of $299 (about Sh687,700) that was to last until July 15.

ATCL had four flights a week--Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Mr Matindi said the airline’s first trip to South Africa had shown a great hope as 80 per cent of the people who were on the aircraft were passengers who paid for their own tickets. “This is unusual and it suggests that our company is now doing well,” said Mr Matindi on June 28 this year immediately after landing at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) from Johannesburg where the Airbus A220-300 went for launch on the first trip.

He said in other launched routes the first day had a few passengers.

The suspension of Johannesburg route suggests that ATCL’s current international routes remain to be those for Mumbai in India, Comoro, Bujumbura in Burundi, Entebbe in Uganda, Lusaka in Zambia and Harare in Zimbabwe.

The Iata Operational Safety Audit (Iosa) certified airline has started talks with the United Kingdom as it makes bold move to resume direct Dar es Salaam-London flight.

Already ATCL had secured three landing slot pairs for London’s Gatwick airport, signalling a significant development in its comeback bid, 19 years after it pulled out due to loses.

In Tanzania, ATCL operates in Dar es Salaam, Mbeya, Bukoba, Dodoma, Kigoma, Kilimanjaro, Mtwara, Mwanza, Songea, Tabora, Iringa and Zanzibar.