Sunday, November 18, 2012

■ TANZANIA: fastjet to recruit local Tanzanian pilots, as Precision Air clears the air over PATP allegations.

fastjetfastjet's (FN) plans to include local Tanzanians in its pilot recruitment drive says the airline's Chief Commercial Officer, Richard Bodin. With its launch date fast approaching (29 November), the carrier has recruited pilots to fly its three Airbus A319 planes, set to arrive in Tanzania shortly.

The exact number of  Tanzanians to be recruited, however, was not specified.
"He (Bodin) said the company (fastjet) was looking for professionally trained Tanzanians to maintain high standards of safety, without specifying the number of the needed local pilots."

fastjet's fleet of A319s (fastjet)
fastjet's fleet of A319s (fastjet)
Bodin's announcement of the recruitment of pilots from Tanzanian local stock comes on the back of a fiery press exchange between Tanzania's Precision Air (PW) Chief Executive Officer, Alfonse Kioko and the Professional Association of Tanzania Pilots (PATP) Secretary General, Captain Khalil Iqbal. 

The exchange revolves around a complaint made by Iqbal, on behalf of  members of the PATP, lamenting the alleged favouritism shown to foreign pilots by Tanzanian carriers, when many local Tanzanian pilots "were roaming the streets."
"As I speak, we have 40 qualified but unemployed flight officers and cabin crew roaming our streets because they can't find jobs as foreigners are given preference," Capt Iqbal told the Daily News. He added that the matter has already been reported to relevant authorities including the Ministry of Transport. Armed with a file of letters of correspondence with different stakeholders including Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA); Tanzania Air Operators' Association (TAOA); the Ministry of Transport and Department of Immigration.
Source [Daily News]

In his response to the same paper, Alfonse Kioko denied Iqbal's accusations challenging any "idle local professional pilots, who can fly ATR or Boeing aircrafts and have clean records, to present themselves for possible immediate recruitment." Kioko then added that the disgruntled PATP members were simply disloyal agitators:
Some of these pilots who are complaining left our company very unprofessionally by issuing a 24-hour notices and sometimes abandoning our planes,” said Mr Kioko who argued that most of the complaining pilots left the country for Nigeria and India in search of greener pastures.

Tanzania's Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) Director General, Fadhili Manongi, added later that most local pilots did not have either the requisite "flying skills" or minimum hours necessary to operate for some commercial airlines. This point was reinforced by the PATP's Deputy Secretary General, Ahmed Ahmed who said that due to the exorbitant cost of training locally for a private licence - between USD17 and 20'000 -  there is need for the Tanzanian government to assist or offer grants/soft loans so as incentivise private flying schools to increase their capacity to cater for both local and international markets, as a possible solution.