by Ben Taylor
Air Tanzania losses
The National Audit Office report presented to parliament in April 2021 reported that Air Tanzania Ltd (ATCL) recorded a loss of TSh 60bn for the financial year 2019-2020. The Controller and Auditor General (CAG), Charles Kichere noted also that the airline had been making losses annually for the past five years, adding up to a total loss over this time of over TSh 150bn. This is despite having received additional equipment in terms of aircrafts that were bought by the government to aid the company’s performance.
The period under review was one of the most difficult one in the aviation industry due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic which forced most countries to go into lockdowns, and many airlines – including Air Tanzania – to suspend flights. Passenger numbers fell dramatically worldwide. As an example of these challenges, in March, Air Tanzania suspended what should have been the airline’s maiden flight to Guangzhou, China. The airline cited Covid-19 control measures put in place by Chinese local authorities.
Since 2015, the government has purchased new eight aircraft consisting of two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners, two Airbus A220-300 models and four Bombardiers Q400. These aircraft are leased by the government to ATCL. Partly as a result of the pandemic, these aircraft have been underutilised, while the government continues to charge ATCL the full lease rate. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa announced that the government had completed payment for three further new aircraft, which were due to arrive in the financial year 2021-2022.
Analysts cautioned that profit-and-loss figures are not the only measure of an airline’s performance. Even without the Coronavirus pandemic, a new (or re-launched) airline should not expect to make a profit for several years, if at all, they noted. Aviation expert, Juma Fimbo, pointed out that the contribution made by national airlines to the national economy is more significant in terms of improved transport links fuelling other economic activities than the airline’s own profitability.
Ubungo flyover launched, named for Chief Secretary Kijazi
The newly constructed Ubungo road interchange was launched on February 24 by President Magufuli, who announced that it was to be called the ‘Kijazi Interchange’. This was in memory and recognition of John Kijazi, the former Chief Secretary (the country’s most senior civil servant), who died in February.
The interchange has three levels, at the intersections of Morogoro Road, Sam Nujoma Road and Nelson Mandela road, close to the Ubungo bus terminal for up-country bus connections. The middle section of the interchange, on Morogoro road, is 260m metres long and 8.9 meters high, while the top level is 700m long and 16.3m high. All three levels of the roads have six lanes.