Sunday, August 5, 2012

► TANZANIA: Air Tanzania temporarily ceases operations as 737 deal with AeroVista is called off.

Air TanzaniaWhat was touted as a new beginning for beleaguered Tanzanian national carrier, Air Tanzania (TC), has now turned into a nasty ordeal with the possibility of litigation after Air Tanzania suspended its contract with Dubai-based ACMI AeroVista from whom it leased a Boeing 737-500, effectively grounding the carrier.

Air Tanzania Acting Chief Executive Officer, Captain Milton Lazaro said:
We had decided to suspend the contract earlier entered upon with Aero-Vista in order to ensure compliance with Government pre-requisite.  We may be able to re-enter a new contract with them after discussions on revision of some clauses that do not favour a sustainable outcome."

AeroVista's 737 in Air Tanzania livery
AeroVista's 737 in Air Tanzania livery
The suspension of the AeroVista contract comes after the 737-500 was grounded in late July after it had "developed cracks along the front window" necessitating the import of spare parts from the UK.

Whilst no official word has been heard from Air Tanzania, Lazaro did state that only flights between Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Mwanza would be temporarily affected by the suspension. Its 3x weekly flights between Dar Es Salaam and Moroni (Comoros) would continue to operate he said. How this will be possible is unsure as, aside from the 737, Air Tanzania has only one viable aircraft - a Dash-8 Q300 plane that is currently undergoing checks in Dar es Salaam.

In May, the firing of then Air Tanzania boss Paul Chizi along with the suspension of 4 officials from Air Tanzania in May was directly linked to this AeroVista deal, which it is alleged, failed to adhere to strict  government anti-graft regulations concerning tender issuing.

Air Tanzania is no stranger to controversial aircraft leasing contracts. Its previous deal in 2009 to lease an A320 from a Lebanese ACMI firm cost the airline USD$39million in rentals with an eventual accumulated debt of USD$200million resulting in several officials serving time in prison for their hand in it. Then, in early 2011, a Wikileaks Diplomatic transcript highlighted suspicions of corruption in the way Air Tanzania went about shopping for jetliners for its ageing fleet in 2007. 

No word or comment has been heard from AeroVista at this time.