Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

14 November 2012

Tanzania: Local Pilots Fail to Get Jobs

Photo: MONUC
Tanzanian pilots have claimed they are discriminated against in favor of foreign workers.

FOREIGN domination of the country's civil aviation includes foreign recruitment of cabin crew and flight operation officers. Professional Association of Tanzania Pilots (PATP) Secretary General, Captain Khalil Iqbal, said yesterday that discrimination of Tanzanians in the civil aviation industry is not only affecting pilots but also other cadres.

"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, Iqbal said that professional local pilots who worked tirelessly to bring Precision Air to international recognition are deliberately frustrated, overworked and underpaid.

"A good example is Captain Ahmed who served Precision Air under Mr Shirima for 10 years, but when he requested (Alfonse) Kioko for retirement, he was fired," Iqbal pointed out. He also said that the Precision Air Chief Executive Officer who had earlier served as Kenya Airways Commercial Director, championed termination of contracts for a number of Tanzanian pilots flying Boeing 737s, who included Captains Mazura senior, Massawe, Bgoya and Mapunda.

The Tanzanian pilots were also rejected by Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA) which advocated recruitment of local pilots to fly the jumbo jets. "Why should we PATP stomach the Kenyans and embrace foreigners in Tanzania?" Iqbal wondered.

In a circular signed by former TCAA Director General, Margaret Munyagi dated June 2011 after cancelling an earlier circular dated December 2004, it reads, "Aircraft owners or operators are urged to give priority of employment to Tanzanian nationals.

Where it becomes operationally necessary to employ a non-Tanzanian, the pilot earmarked for employment shall be well experienced to impart the knowledge to Tanzanians." The PATP Secretary General said that the country has enough qualified pilots to fly any type of aircraft.

He argued that before Kenya Airways acquired Precision Air, local pilots flew all kinds of planes at the company including Boeings. Precision Air CEO, Alfonse Kioko, invited local professional pilots with clean records and skills to fly ATR and Boeing to report to his office for immediate recruitment.

However, he said that most of the local pilots are not qualified while the few who have skills bear disciplinary problems. TCAA's Director General supported Mr Kioko's observation, saying that most local pilots have no requisite minimum flying hours of 300, hence don't qualify for recruitment.

Meanwhile, newly established low cost carrier, fastjet's imported foreign pilots will train their local peers in flying modern Airbus A319 planes as the company introduces its services in the country later this month.

The company's Chief Commercial Officer, Richard Bodin, told journalists yesterday in Dar es Salaam that local pilots are among the 30 who are already recruited to fly three A319 planes which will arrive in the country in a fortnight.

"We are looking for pilots who meet very high standards of safety. We will not compromise on that," said Mr Bodin when launching the official ticket sales at minimum price of 20 US dollars (approx. 32,000/-) pre-tax.

He said fastjet's homogenous fleet will only consists of A319 planes which are fuel efficient and environmentally friendly. Asked how many local pilots has fastjet exactly employed, Bodin said, "I am not sure on the numbers, I will have to check."

Fastjet which has acquired Fly 540 and has European based Easyjet as shareholder aspires to become a pan-African low cost carrier by treading on terrain which has failed several other world. "This country's middle class is growing very fast and will be travelling frequently within and across the borders," said Bodin.

Three aircrafts will be flying to Mwanza and Arusha from Dar es Salaam twice each day as fastjet plans to revolutionize air travel in the country. The airline will also fly similar low cost planes in Angola, Ghana and Kenya.

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