TANZANIAN pilots who are at loggerheads with Precision Air over management's position regarding the recruitment of foreign pilots claim to support the company's soft loan application to government but demand that certain conditions are put in place.
Secretary General of the Professional Association of Tanzania Pilots (PATP), Captain Khalil Iqbal, said on Friday that Precision Air should be given the soft loan to protect the jobs of locals.
"We support this initiative but government should spell out conditions including that of ensuring top management of the company recognizes our contribution," Capt Iqbal argued.
He pointed out that giving the airline the soft loan without changes in the senior management will not improve matters, "Tanzanians are being sidelined in recruitment and training," Capt Iqbal charged.
The PATP Secretary General said the loan which is coming from taxpayers' money should benefit the Tanzanian employees whom he insists have suffered long enough.
Minister for Transport, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe avoided making comments on the application of the soft loan when asked on Wednesday evening. "Precision Air is a private company with its own board of directors, go and ask them," said Dr Mwakyembe who is struggling to revive Air Tanzania Company Limited.
Press reports last week indicated that Precision Air made a 32 million US dollars soft loan application to government after two Boeing aircraft were sent back earlier this year due to financial constraints.
The company is listed on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange and its main competitor is the budget airliner, Fastjet which offers very low fares. Aviation experts blame the company's decision to purchase and lease a number of brand new sophisticated aircrafts which are not fuel efficient.
Last May, the new Managing Director and CEO, Sauda Rajab announced that flights to Zanzibar will not be suspended although the airline was facing a backlog of over 3.4bn/- unpaid taxes according Zanzibar Revenue Board (ZRB) which led to restraining flights operated by Precision Air Services as well as closure of its offices in the Spice Islands.