6 February 2013

Tanzania: TCAA Sheds Light On Fastjet Operations

TANZANIA is the only country among four in Africa that has 'quickly' allowed licensing of the low cost carrier, FastJet, which operates under a licence owned by Fly540 Tanzania.

However, the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) said no law was violated in licensing FastJet through air operators' certificate (AOC) of Fly540.

TCAA Director General Fadhil Manongi said the African countries that are still reluctant to license the airline are doing so "because they are better-off than Tanzania in terms of air transport".

"No legislation was violated in this regard. What should also be noted is that we have different laws and so it is not just a matter of comparing us with other countries," Mr Manongi told the 'Daily News' in a telephone interview.

He said FastJet was just a brand, adding that in its records, TCAA still recognised Fly540 as the holder of the air operators' certificate, which meant that it will be held accountable in case of anything.

Highly-placed sources in the aviation industry are of the view that the decision to hastily allow FastJet to operate in the country may hamper growth of local airlines, particularly the struggling national carrier, Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL).

The sources were also concerned that FastJet's registered offices are at London Gatwick Airport, where senior management and back office functions such as revenue management would be based, while such functions could be done locally.

Reached for comment yesterday, the Deputy Minister for Transport, Dr Charles Tizeba, was categorical that Tanzania has no exclusivity clause that forbids foreign operators. "Having an airline that provides affordable fares for the majority of the people is what matters to the government," Dr Tizeba told the 'Daily News' in a telephone interview.

Touted as the first pan-African budget-airline, FastJet was created after African conglomerate Lonrho sold its aviation division Fly540 to London Stock Exchange's listed Rubicon. So far, the company has operations only in Tanzania operating the Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Mwanza routes.

The company is understood to be eyeing more routes within the African continent. The predecessor of FastJet, Fly540, had operations in Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania and Angola. FastJet is however still struggling to make an entry into those other countries.

An email sent to spokesperson of FastJet over the last few days is yet to be responded to. Its officials have however been quoted elsewhere as stating that the company will work with any government that realizes the value of effective airline in their country.

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