Dar es Salaam. Fastjet executive chairman Laurence Masha says he is keeping his fingers crossed over a fresh application to have the low-cost carrier ‘Fastkjet’ back in Tanzanian skies.
The former government minister has filed a fresh application for an operating licence for the grounded operator, he told The Citizen yesterday in an interview from South Africa.
Mr Masha’s first attempt to have Fastjet fly again was rejected in April 2019 by the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) for failing to submit a business plan. However, he is optimistic that the second application - which is due for hearing by TCAA on November 27 this year - will succeed. All that he wants is to be back in business.
“I am ready to continue with business so that I can clear all debts that the airline owes the government and workers. So, I remain optimistic that we will be granted a licence,” he said.
The former Nyamagana legislator declined to reveal how much the once-popular airliner owes in debts. But it paid some Sh7 billion in debts shortly before the April licence application.
Yesterday, TCAA director general Hamza Johari confirmed that the airline, which was grounded in December 2018 following mounting debts and operational hitches, has filed a fresh application. The Authority issued a public notice on Wednesday inviting public views on Fastjet’s application - as well as other operators who have applied for renewals of their licences. Alongside Fastjet, Bakhresa Group’s ‘Azam Luxury Resorts’ and ‘My Fly Aviation Company’ also applied for new air-charter/aviation licences, the latter also including scheduled operations. Azam’s licence is for chartered operations to its luxurious Hotel Verde in Zanzibar.
“The licensing authority will sit on November 27 to consider for air services and ground handling service licences from companies and operators,” TCAA notice read. Said Mr Johari of the Fastjet application: “Knowing if they have complied or not will be known after the review session on that date.”
Fastjet Company Limited withdrew from the Tanzania market last year citing mounting losses and what it said were regulatory bottlenecks on route applications. Mr Masha then bought out the South African investors to raise his stake to a majority to retain Fastjet Tanzania.