What ATCL needs to perform

Sunday August 01 2021
ATCL pic
By Alex Nelson Malanga

Dar es Salaam. Aviation experts yesterday called for the Public Private Partnership (PPP) if Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) were to be run commercially and profitably. They also argued that the national carrier needed a leasing waiver from its nine aircraft lessor, who is the government.

Those who aired their views yesterday were reacting to the concerns of airline’s managing director Ladislaus Matindi’s about the aircraft structure which makes the government to be the owner and lease them to them.

Speaking here on Friday at the event to receive one more new aircraft – De Havilland Dash 8-400, formally Bombardier, Mr Matindi lamented over the current aircraft structure, saying it was by default becoming inherent of the government’s debt. “This plunges us into failure to expand the ATCL’s operation networks because of underutilisation of the fleet,” said Mr Matindi, citing an example of indefinite suspension of the ATCL’s flights to Johannesburg, South Africa.

The suspension came after the South African authorities impounded an Airbus 220-300 aircraft following a court application by a retired farmer who is owed compensation by the Tanzanian government.

A renowned aviation expert with about 30 years of experience in the aviation industry, Mr Juma Fimbo, said PPP was the best way to go if ATCL were to do away with such inconveniences.

“In Tanzania, we have public institutions which have abundant resources with nowhere to invest,” he told The Citizen referring to the likes of social security funds, Tanzania National Parks Authority (Tanapa) and local government authorities

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“It is high time ATCL’s shares were floated for the public institutions and private sector to buy and run the airline in the form of PPP.”

In doing so, he said, the country would have a strong airline and thus stay far away from pressure from the Treasury-which is the owner of the airline and aircraft.

Mr John Njawa, an aviation expert, was of the view that the problem with ATCL was not the aircraft ownership structure, but rather it needed to get boosting measures relief, leasing waiver, in particular.

“We need to ask ourselves; does ATCL have the capacity and resources to stand on its own without depending on the government subsidies,” said Mr Njawa, who has 47 years of experience in the aviation industry.

“The answer is probably no. The government therefore needs to leave all nine aircraft to ATCL for some years without requiring a single cent in lease payments.”

The problem with ATCL, Mr Njawa said, started way back when the government came up with a decision to revamp the national carrier on the ground that it was of more service to the public and not for profit-making.

“If we want ATCL to perform, we need to avoid top (government) down decision-making and leave it to the airline’s management,” opined Mr Njawa, x-Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority safety regulation director.

ATCL’s Matindi said yesterday that if all goes as planned, the airline’s experts would sit with the government to discuss what aircraft ownership structure to go with.

If agreed with the government on the change of the structure, the airline has many options on which forms of aircraft ownership to go with.

They include, among others, full aircraft ownership, aircraft co-ownership, aircraft joint ownership, aircraft fractional ownership, aircraft interchange agreements and aircraft time sharing agreements.

Reacting to the concerns by ATCL on Friday, President Samia Suluhu Hassan promised to work on all the challenges that the national carrier was grappling with.