Dar’s aviation body mulls making its airspace safer

Sunday October 21 2018

 

By Alex Malanga @ChiefMalanga amalanga@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. Flying into Tanzania is set to become safer as Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) has revealed plans to using own fund for the purpose.

Creation of a safer airspace will be possible thanks to increased authority’s revenue collection.

The authority’s revenue has been increasing for four consecutive years, whereby in the 2017/18 fiscal year it went up by 13 per cent compared to the year before.

The authority attributes the trend to improved systems of administration of revenue collection.

Speaking to The Citizen in an exclusive interview on Wednesday, October 17, TCAA director general Hamza Johari said TCAA garnered Sh73.55 billion in 2017/18 financial year, well above the previous year’s Sh65.06 billion.

This implies that the authority was collecting an average of Sh6.1 billion per month.

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This is an icing on the cake under the period of review as the revenue collection surpassed the Sh70 billion mark by 5.1 percent.

The current plan is to collect Sh76 billion in the current financial year, which is translated into an average of Sh6.3 billion per month.

“Over the years, we have been operating in line with our expectations, with last year’s revenue standing at 13 per cent higher than a year before and surpassing our target, this is encouraging,” said Mr Johari.

“We have been very keen on monitoring revenue collection to ensure we leave no single cent uncollected.”

TCAA’s main sources of revenue, include safety fees, air navigation services charges, landing charges, and licensing fees which varies with the kind of the licence.

The safety fee, which is included in the ticket price, stands at $9 (Sh20,000) on an international passenger ticket and Sh3,000 on the domestic passenger ticket.

These amounts are paid by passengers departing on an aircraft from the country’s airport on a journey to a destination within or outside the country.

Coming to air navigation service charges, the cost for an aircraft weighting up to 5,670 kilogrammes stands at $60 (Sh135,000), according to TCAA aeronautical Information Circular.

Detailing that fee for aircraft weighting more than 181,437 kilogramme is $700 (Sh1.57 million).

The landing charge per 1,000 kilogramme of aircraft at Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar and Pemba airports stand at $5 (Sh11,000).

The revenues are shared between TCAA and Tanzania Airports Authority (TAA), with the former pocketing 30 per cent of the amount and the latter receiving the remaining.

Mr Johari said the money raised from revenue collection was being channelled towards strengthening the safety of the country’s sky and navigational infrastructure as par with the International Civil Aviation organisation (Icao) standards.

Planned investments include a new radar system for Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Kilimanjaro and Mbeya airports and installation of Very High Frequency (VHF) main radio communication equipment at various airports.

Also in the pipeline is improvement of instrument landing system in Zanzibar—a ground-based instrument approach system that provides precision guidance to an aircraft approaching and landing on a runway.

TCAA boss said already the radar for the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA), whose installation is slated for next month has arrived in the country.

“All hands are on deck to start the installation of radars at our airports. We are optimistic that by next October all of the four radars would be installed in the targeted airports,” said Mr Johari.

He said the country’s move to sign an agreement with the France-based Thales Air System for procurement and installation of four modern surveillance radars, would help the country to take full control of its entire airspace and beyond.

It was last year when the government through TCAA signed a Sh61.3 billion pact with the French-based company for installation of radars to replace the current one which is said to be outdated.

TCAA will purchase the new radars using internally sourced funds of which 45 per cent would be from the authority’s various sources, with the government providing the remaining 55 per cent.

“Purchase of radars is part of our wider efforts to secure the country’s airspace with a view to increasing operators’ confidence and hence efficiency,” he said.

As things stand, the current facility which was installed in 2002 at JNIA is able to monitor only 25 per cent of its aviation sky, leaving the rest under the watch of neighbouring countries.

As it happens, Tanzania is unable to control the eastern triangle, which covers Mayotte, Madagascar, Mauritius and Moroni islands.

This, forced Icao over the past 40 years, to delegate the area to Kenya due to safety reasons.

But with purchase of new modern radars, TCAA is positive it has all it takes to control its entire airspace and has already written to Icao to claim back its area.

By getting the area back, Tanzania will stand a chance to garner Sh1 billion annually, which has been losing out to Kenya.

Stakeholders are positive that with improved aviation safety and security, the sector will stand a chance to record positive performance in line with aircraft movement, cargo handling and passenger traffic.

Going by TCAA latest report, aircraft movement increased by 4.2 per cent in 2016 to 234,557 compared to the previous year.

However, cargo handled through the country’s airports went down to 24,030 tonnage, well below the previous year’s 30,020 tonnage, with stakeholders linking the negative trend to infrastructural and regulatory challenges.

But in the same period of reference, air operators had a reason to smile as passenger traffic increased by 2.3 per cent to 4.95 million, thanks to increase in tourists.

Going by the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB), the number of arrivals jumped to 1.28 million in 2016, well above the previous year’s 1.1 million.

Tanzania Air Operators Association (Taoa) executive secretary Laurence Paul is positive that Tanzania’s aviation sector has all what it takes to move to the apex.

He banked his hopes on the government’s decision to buy the radars, saying the move would bring to the attention more airlines in the country’s airspace.

“This is the bold decision which is geared to convincing the rest of the world that our sky is secure and we are in full control of it,” Mr Paul was recently quoted by The Citizen as saying.

In a related development, passenger air travel at the global level is projected to maintain positive growth rates up to 2030, despite the number of challenges which the industry is grappling with.

According to the International Air Transport Association (Iata), airlines around the world are struggling with high jet fuel prices and sluggish economic growth.

However, it is forecasted that these difficult economic conditions will be offset by an increase in passenger volume numbers - which is in turn projected to translate into improved financial performance of the airline transport business.

Between 2016 and 2035, the number of airline passengers was projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of almost five per cent.

Recently, Iata announced full-year global passenger traffic results for 2016, which show that demand rose by 6.3 per cent, from six per cent the previous year.

This strong performance was well ahead of the ten-year average annual growth rate of 5.5 per cent.