Sunday, October 14, 2012

► TANZANIA: Chaos as Air Tanzania 'sort of' resumes services and Fly540 TZ suddenly drops various domestic routes.

Air TanzaniaIn what turned out to be a less than auspicious relaunch, Tanzanian national carrier Air Tanzania (TC) made a pig's breakfast of its debut on Friday morning, by canceling its Dar es Salaam to Mwanza via Kilimanjaro flight. A lone flight to Mwanza later in the evening on Friday served as the carrier's return to service, though news reports state that Dar es Salaam - Kilimanjaro flights will be postponed for roughly a week.

According to local Tanzanian press reports, the mishap was caused by governmental dilly-dallying which resulted in the late arrival of a wet-leased Boeing 737-200Adv from South African ACMI Star Air Cargo (BRH):
There were some problems leading to cancellation of the KIA route not just for Friday but for about seven days. The aircraft will be flying to Mwanza once a day in the evening so as to restore confidence among our customers that ATCL is back and determined to serve them, an ATCL official affirmed. And while ATCL and the ministry opted to keep the resumption of operations on an unprecedented low profile, this paper has established that senior officers were compelled to run up and down to ensure the aircraft arrived in the country as scheduled.

Air Tanzania's Dash 8-300 5H-MWF
Air Tanzania's Dash 8-300 5H-MWF in April (AH)
The airline's Bombardier Dash 8-300 (MSN 474 | 5H-MWF) is said to be still in the hangar in Dar es Salaam, awaiting the arrival of replacement landing gear from Canada and a second engine from Italy after a rejected takeoff and a subsequent runway excursion from Kigoma's runway 34 in April resulted in a collapsed nose gear and right wing (including engine) separation.

Hopefully, this debacle won't set a precedent for the airline's coming future as it struggles to shed itself of its USD76million debt owed to various creditors.

However, it seems the god's may be smiling on the ailing carrier as quite serendipitously, LCC Fly540 Tanzania (FTZ) has inexplicably halted their operations from Dar es Salaam to Kilimanjaro, Mwanza and Zanzibar, effective 13 October until further notice. Whilst Fly540 still serves both Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar from Nairobi and Mombasa, their website shows no further flights available on the aforementioned domestic routes, a move which leaves only Precision Air (PW) as TC's only real domestic competition.

Fly540 was unavailable for comment and has withdrawn its official notice apropos the route cancellations, leading to much speculation on the routes' viabilities in the first place.