Monday, August 5, 2013

► TANZANIA: Air Tanzania to tentatively operate MA60s, Y12s as part of deal with China's JoyAir.

Air TanzaniaAir Tanzania (TC) is reportedly to acquire five Xian MA60s and three Harbin Y-12  turboprops (whether they are on lease or outright purchase is unclear) from JoyAir (JR), a Chinese carrier that is 95% owned by China's state-backed aircraft manufacturer and Xian's parent, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), with the remaining 5% held by China Eastern Airlines (MU).

Air Tanzania F27 (Rolf Wallner)
According to a report in The Guardian, a three-man delegation from JoyAir consisting of the vice president, the head of engineering quality control and the head of technical services departments paid a visit to the Tanzanian capital last week to meet Air Tanzania's management and technical staff. JoyAir operates an exclusive fleet of seven MA60s.

The deal itself, though, has already been greenlighted by Dodoma with the first of the aircraft due to arrive during Q2 of 2014. It is understood that the MA60 aircraft would be deployed onto major domestic and regional routes such as Mwanza, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar flights whereas the Y12 would take see service to various National Parks and Game reserve air strips such as Mikumi, Selous, Serengeti and Ngorongoro.

The choice of the MA60 comes at a difficult time for the type whose splotchy service record has come under fire in Asia in the last few months with Myanmar and Tajikistan, both operators of the type, grounding all flights following unexplained incidents involving the aircraft. Indonesia, too, has mulled a moratorium on MA60 flights following incidents with operator Merpati.

With a limited fleet consisting of a sole Dash 8-300 and a B737-200Adv on lease from Star Air South Africa, Air Tanzania has been linked to numerous fleet renewal deals in the past. Last year, it was reported that the carrier was keen on acquiring a B737-500 and four Dash 8-400s. The Guardian claims that the MA60 deal is now a result of a failed bid to lease a Fokker 50 from an undisclosed operator in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Tanzanian Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda, is expected to visit China in the next few weeks to finalize the deal.

Thanks to RwandanFlyer