8 February 2013

Tanzania: TCAA Studies Airline Wrangle As Fastjet Defends Its Licence

THE Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) is closely following the legal disputes between Five Forty Aviation and FastJet to establish their impact in the local aviation industry.

"We are consulting our lawyers to establish the impact of the disputes in the local aviation industry, " TCAA Director General Mr Fadhili Manongi told the 'Daily News' in Dar es Salaam.

Mr Manongi said his office has been copied letters by lawyers from the two firms regarding a number of issues and that it was still studying the situation thus there was no need to panic.

He would not divulge details of the letter but pointed out that they had nothing to do with TCAA. Five Forty Aviation Limited announced on Wednesday that it has withdrawn the licences it had granted to Lonrho Aviation (FastJet Africa Operations) in Tanzania, Angola and Ghana.

However, FastJet's Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Ed Winter, maintains that Five Forty Aviation has no powers to terminate purported brand licence agreements for any Fly540 operations.

"The owner of Five Forty Aviation has no authority to withdraw the licence," Mr Winter told 'Daily News' in a telephone interview from London. He allayed fears that the ongoing dispute will not have any negative impact on the expansion plans of the Africa's first low cost carrier.

"In fact, we are currently waiting for approval from authorities in Uganda and South Africa to start flights between Dar es Salaam and Entebbe and Johannesburg," the CEO explained.

Mr Winter said his company is also considering introducing flights to Songwe International Airport in Mbeya once the airport is fully finished and jet fuel is made available.

He also refuted claims made by the owner of Five Forty Aviation, Don Smith, regarding unpaid debts for the purchase of its interests in Fly540 Kenya. "Following consultation with legal advisors in East Africa, FastJet is preparing to take legal actions against him if he does not stop the accusations," Mr Winter said.

Reached for comment, the Deputy Minister for Transport, Dr Charles Tizeba, sought to distance the government from the aviation wrangle. "Our role as a government is to put in place a favourable climate for environment, TCCA should be in better position to comment on regulatory issues," the deputy minister explained.

In June last year, UK's listed FastJet which was formerly known as Rubicon Diversified Investments Plc, acquired Lonrho Aviation and thus gaining control of assets and liabilities of the company in Tanzania, Angola, Kenya and Ghana.

The new company rebranded in Tanzania from Fly540 to FastJet Tanzania in November, last year, but it continued using Fly540 brand in Angola and Ghana.

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