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No holiday break for the pilots of Air Tanzania



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Days after the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) said it could revoke FastJet’s operation licence, the government has cancelled Christmas and New Year leave for pilots flying the national carrier, to fill the gap left by the budget airline.

“All pilots flying the national carrier aeroplanes should call off their annual leave to serve the people,” said the Minister for Transport Isaack Kamwelwe.

Fastjet suspended its flights until the end of January.

According to Mr Kamwelwe, passengers flying to various destinations in Tanzania during the Christmas and New Year festival could suffer following the suspension.

He said that the government will ensure that all passengers booked with Air Tanzania are able to fly to their destinations.

TCAA announced its intention to revoke FastJet’s operation licence, citing the airline’s cancellation of flights and the huge debt it owes contractors and the government. Aviation authorities in Dar es Salaam said late Monday that FastJet had failed to address operational issues which led to severe flight disruptions.

TCCA issued the airline a 28-day notice to submit its financial and business plans or have its licence revoked.

TCAA director-general Hamza Johari asked all service providers that Fastjet owes money to send their invoices to the authority for action.

FastJet launched its flights in 2012, attracting a huge passenger base due to its affordable ticket prices. The airline began facing financial challenges after one of the firm’s original owners, FastJet Plc which held a 49 per cent stake withdrew. The airline was sold to Tanzania investors in November 2014.

Air Tanzania on the other hand was launched in 1977 to take over the defunct East African Airways. The government increased its aircraft to five, boosting business.

After acquiring its Boeing 787- 8 Dreamliner this year, Air Tanzania plans to launch a new route to Guangzhou, China via Bangkok, Thailand three times a week, with return fares pegged at between $650 and $700.

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