AIR CRASH IN MWANZA

The Air Tanzania Boeing 737 -200 after crash-landing at Mwanza airport

An Air Tanzania plane, which was carrying 45 passengers from Dar es Salaam, was heading to its final destination in Mwanza on the morning of March 2 when the captain reported trouble to ground control. Visibility was near zero and the captain said he couldn’t land safely and would go to the nearest alternative airport which was Kilimanjaro.

After ten minutes however he changed his mind and decided to land even though he could see a pool of water on the runway. When the plane hit the puddle, the left engine allegedly sucked in water and turned off suddenly, leading him to lose control of the aircraft. The plane then skidded off the runway, causing some panic among the passengers. The plane skidded for nearly a kilometre before coming to rest at around 7:45am. Fire fighters managed to evacuate all 45 passengers and seven crew members, none of whom suffered serious injuries.

The plane suffered serious technical damage that might rule out any possibility of flying again as a passenger aircraft – Guardian on Sunday.

The future of Air Tanzania
It is understood that the government is continuing to look for investors for part of Air Tanzania as it wishes to bring the airline back to full strength so that it can take advantage of growing markets in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Malawi and China. In December 155 jobs were cut leaving only 182 on the pay role.

Talks between the government and Chinese company Sonangol International Holdings Ltd, which has a substantial business in the oil, gas and minerals industries and which has started construction of a third terminal at the JK Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, are said to be well advanced.

Air Tanzania Corporation was privatised in December 2002 in a deal in which South African Airways acquired 49 per cent of the shares but the agreement broke down.

The US firm Celtic Capital Corporation of Texas has also indicated that it would be ready to take over the operations of Air Tanzania. Five firms based in the US, UK and the United Arab Emirates have also shown an interest – The East African.

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