Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Eight-Plane Deal for ATCL Nears Fruition

NEGOTIATIONS between Tanzania and an investor from Oman to shunt in eight new planes for Air Tanzania are well underway and promising, the airline's Acting Managing Director and CEO Captain Milton Lazaro told the 'Daily News'.

If the talks will bear the expected fruits, the national flag carrier will be put in a better position unlike at present when it possesses only a single aircraft, which operates within and outside the country.

Recently, Air Tanzania launched direct flights to Bujumbura, Burundi, as part of efforts to reposition itself in the competitive aviation industry.

The move, however, was met with criticism from a section of the public, which suggested that it was wise for the company to first secure more planes before embarking on such international trips.

In August, this year, the Chairman of Oman-based firm, Alhayat Development and Investment Company, Sheikh Salim Al Harthy, toured the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) and promised that his company would bring in four Embraer175 and four Bombardiers, should the talks become fruitful.

In an interview with this newspaper, the ATCL boss said that Tanzania was still in talks with the Omani firm on the joint venture, which would see the duo joining hands in the aviation industry.

Captain Lazaro enthused that there was every sign that the ongoing talks would end positively -- and as soon as they reach a consensus, they would sign the deal right away.

"Talks are in progress. What I can say is that they have shown interest and we believe that at the end of the day we are going to succeed," he said, adding that they have involved all parties concerned.

The ATCL head reported that he would be in a position to describe the stage that has been reached concerning the investment in two weeks' time.

"In two weeks, I mean by January 10, I will tell you the point we have reached in these talks, he emphasised. Transport Minister Harrison Mwakyembe shared Captain Lazaro's observation, saying it was true that talks were underway on the joint venture modality.

"You should have checked with Air Tanzania officials first unless they have failed to comment; then I would have chipped in. But in brief, it is true that negotiations are going well as you have been informed by them," said Dr Mwakyembe.

The Oman firm's willingness to invest in the industry came following a visit to Oman by President Jakaya Kikwete, who asked investors to come and explore the wider range of opportunities available in Tanzania.

In the initial talks, the firm's chairman, Sheikh Al Harthy, was quoted saying that his company would invest 100 million US dollars, to increase gradually, in addition to training 10 youths in aircraft maintenance engineering.

He had also promised that the company would erect a 25-storey building in Dar es Salaam Central Business District in a joint-venture with ATCL.

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