|Founded||11 March 1977 (as ATC) |
December 2002 (Restructured)
|Commenced operations||1 June 1977 (as ATC) |
31 March 2003 (as ATCL)
|Hubs||Julius Nyerere International Airport|
|Parent company||Tanzanian Government (100%)|
|Headquarters||Dar es Salaam, Tanzania|
|Key people||Mr. Ladislaus Matindi (CEO)|
|Total equity||TSh 13.4 billion [US$8.06 m]|
It was established as Air Tanzania Corporation (ATC) in 1977 after the dissolution of East African Airways and has been a member of the African Airlines Association since its inception. The airline was wholly owned by the Tanzanian Government until 2002 when it was partially privatised in partnership with South African Airways, but the government repurchased the shares in 2006, making it once again a wholly owned government company.
In 2016, the Tanzanian government under President Magufuli initiated a new drive to revive the national carrier by acquiring additional aircraft from Bombardier and Boeing. The airline further intended to double its fleet to 14 aircraft by 2022 and increase its longhaul and regional routes.
In April 2021, the Controller and Auditor General warned that Air Tanzania flights flying abroad run the risk of being impounded due to huge debts incurred by the company. He stated that the company had incurred losses of TSh150 billion (USD 65 million) since 2016. However, in May 2021 the Government of Tanzania announced a bailout of USD 194 million for the airline.
Air Tanzania Corporation (1977–2002)
The Air Tanzania Corporation (ATC) was established on 11 March 1977 after the break-up of East African Airways (EAA), which had previously served the region. The liquidation of EAA followed its accumulation of US$120 million of debt.
According to Andy Chande, the founding chairman of the board, Tanzania and Uganda did not receive a fair share of the former carrier's assets despite being equal partners. The airline commenced operations with a Douglas DC-9-32 leased from Kenya Airways and purchased an additional two Boeing 737, financed by a U.S. bank. It also leased aircraft from Air Madagascar. Four Fokker F27s and four DHC-6-300 Twin Otters were added in 1980. Because of less demand, two of the Fokker 27s were made obsolete in the year 1981. These aircraft returned to service in the year 1983, but were once again removed.
In May 1991, Air Tanzania began operating a Boeing 767-200ER that was leased from Ethiopian Airlines, but this aircraft proved to be too large and was returned to the lessor in February 1992. The airline reported a profit of US$650,000 in 1994.
In 1994, Air Tanzania joined with Uganda Airlines and South African Airways (SAA) to form Alliance Air. Air Tanzania had a 10 percent stake in the venture. Flights operated from Dar es Salaam to London–Heathrow via Entebbe on a Boeing 747SP initially, and then a smaller Boeing 767-200. This venture ceased operations in October 2000 after accumulating losses of about US$50 million.  The losses had been funded by Transnet, the parent company of SAA, through April 2000. When Transnet refused to continue funding the deficit, Air Tanzania accused SAA of using Alliance Air "as a Trojan Horse to take over national airlines in the region". In February 2002, the government began the process of privatising ATC through the Presidential Parastatal Sector Reform Commission. Advertisements were placed in the local, regional, and international media inviting potential bidders. The International Finance Corporation advised the government in this transaction. The government had approved a transaction structure that included:
- Creation of a new company, "Air Tanzania Company Limited", which would be incorporated as a limited liability company under the Companies Act to take over the operating assets and specified rights and liabilities of ATC.
- A second new company, "Air Tanzania Holding Company", which would be created to take over the non-operating assets and all other liabilities of ATC.
Eight airlines submitted Expressions of Interest:
- Aero Asia International (Pakistan)
- Air Consult International (Ireland)
- Comair (South Africa)
- Air Gulf Falcon]] (United Arab Emirates)
- Kenya Airways
- Nationwide Airlines (South Africa)
- Precision Air (Tanzania)
- South African Airways
Of the eight, four airlines carried out due diligence – South African Airways, Kenya Airways, Comair, and Nationwide Airlines. By 19 September 2002, the bid deadline date, only SAA had submitted a bid. Kenya Airways and Nationwide Airlines had informed the government that they did not intend to submit bids.
The Tanzanian government selected SAA as the winning bidder. After signing an agreement with the government, SAA in December 2002 purchased a 49 percent stake in Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) for US$20 million. $10 million was the value of the government's shares, and the remaining $10 million was for the Capital and Training Account for financing Air Tanzania's proposed business plan.
As the strategic partner, SAA planned to create its East African hub in Dar es Salaam to form a "Golden Triangle" between southern, eastern, and western Africa. It also intended to replace ATCL's fleet with Boeing 737-800s, 737-200s, and 767-300s. It also planned to introduce regional routes, including routes to the Middle East and West Africa. The government was expected to sell 10 percent of its 51 percent stake to a private Tanzanian investor, thereby reducing the government's ownership to a non-controlling interest in ATCL.
Air Tanzania recorded a pre-tax loss of almost US$7.3 million in its first year following privatisation. The loss was attributed mainly to the inability to expand the network as quickly and extensively as originally planned. It had been hoped to launch services to Dubai, India, and Europe, but these were delayed as Air Tanzania had only Boeing 737-200s in its fleet. The development of Dar es Salaam as an East African hub for the SAA alliance had also not proceeded as quickly as planned.
Air Tanzania suspended on 31 January 2005 one of its few regional services, Dar es Salaam to Nairobi, following intense competition from Kenya Airways on the route. The airline, however, reaffirmed its intention to launch long-haul services within a year from Dar es Salaam to Dubai, London, Mumbai, and Muscat.
The Tanzanian government announced on 31 March 2006 that it would dispose of ATCL following four years of losses, which amounted to TZS 24.7 billion. The director-general of the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority, Margaret Munyagi, said: "Air Tanzania was in a worse state than before it was taken over by SAA." SAA, however, claimed the Tanzanian government was "not serious" for failing to release about US$30 million, which was needed to implement Air Tanzania's business strategy to reverse continued losses.
On 7 September 2006, the Tanzanian government bought SAA's 49 percent stake in ATCL for US$1 million, hence officially terminating its partnership with SAA. The venture collapsed due to the partners' different interests in the business.
Relaunched ATCL (2007–2015)
After the partnership between Air Tanzania and South African Airways (SAA) was officially terminated, the government set aside TZS 13 billion for Air Tanzania to start using its own ticket stock (number 197) instead of the stock of SAA (number 083), changing revenue systems and fuel services, preparing e-ticketing and accounts systems, using a new trademark, and clearing outstanding debts. President Jakaya Kikwete appointed Mustafa Nyang'anyi, a veteran politician and diplomat ambassador, as the board chairman, and former Parastatal Pensions Fund director general David Mattaka as managing director and chief executive officer.
In conjunction, the government also began to look for another private partner to run the airline. The first discussions began with China Sonangol International Limited in 2007, however, the discussions were ultimately unsuccessful and ended in 2010. From 1 July 2007, ATCL started using its own ticket stock and began operations as a wholly owned government airline.
The Parliamentary Committee on Economic Infrastructure expressed its concern about no funds being set aside for ATCL. According to the opposition, the airline has debts amounting to US$4 million due to SAA. A member of the National Assembly of Tanzania also asked the government to claim compensation from SAA for taking aircraft spare parts from the Air Tanzania hangar at the Kilimanjaro International Airport to South Africa.
Air Tanzania was relaunched in September 2007 after the dissolution of the partnership with SAA with two leased Boeing 737-200s in its fleet. The new brand represented the company's name, Mount Kilimanjaro and the airline's international destinations. The introduction of the airline's new logo on a leased Airbus A320 bore the image of the imposing giraffe – Tanzania's national icon, to replace the South African Airways flag symbol. On 1 October 2007, the revamped Air Tanzania made its inaugural flight on the Dar es Salaam to Mwanza via Kilimanjaro route.
In February 2008, the carrier acquired two de Havilland Canada Dash DHC 8-Q311s. In December 2008, the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) withdrew Air Tanzania's Air Operator Certificate because the airline had failed to meet the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization. Two weeks later, the International Air Transport Association banned the air carrier from all aviation transactions and informed all travel agencies and other aviation companies to stop all transactions with Air Tanzania until further notice. The certificate was restored in January 2009, with both the TCAA and Air Tanzania claiming there had never been any doubt about the airworthiness of its aircraft. In 2009, Air Tanzania flew 60,018 passengers, while Precision Air moved 583,000 passengers and Coastal Aviation 141,995 passengers.
Once the talks with China Sonangol International limited fell through, press reports in July 2010 indicated that Air Tanzania was in serious discussions with Air Zimbabwe to establish extensive and substantive management collaborative arrangements. Both airlines were reported to be in search of strategic partners to shore up their operations, which had been in decline over the past decade.
From 2011 to 2015, the airline was in a constant period of decline, shutting down operations multiple times due to lack of aircraft. Air Tanzania was effectively grounded in March 2011, after its sole remaining operational aircraft, a Bombardier Q300, was sent to South Africa for heavy maintenance, leaving the carrier stranded due to its failure to foresee suitable aircraft leases for the duration. At the time, the other Bombardier Q300 was undergoing a heavy C-check at ATCL's hangar in Dar es Salam, stranded there due to lack of funds to import spare parts from abroad. Air Tanzania resumed flying in November 2011 following the return of the aircraft. The maintenance cost US$1 million, but other accumulated expenses brought the total bill to $3 million, which the Tanzanian government paid in September 2011.
In November 2011, Air Tanzania leased a Fokker F28 aircraft from JetLink Express on a standby basis in case its only operational aircraft were incapacitated. The airline assured the public that it would never cease operations again and that more aircraft would be procured over the next several months and years, according to the airline business plan shared with the media. On 21 November 2011, Air Tanzania began negotiations with Export Development Canada (EDC) to explore how EDC could assist the airline in acquiring more aircraft from Bombardier, a Canadian aircraft manufacturer. Those negotiations, however, failed due to the airline's large amount of debt.
On 29 March 2012, Aerovista leased a Boeing 737-500 to Air Tanzania to enhance the airline's service delivery in the short term. In early August 2012, Air Tanzania suspended the contract with Aerovista and returned the aircraft. The only other aircraft in the fleet, a Bombardier Q300, was stored for maintenance, which caused the airline to suspend operations and rebook passengers to other carriers. Air Tanzania returned to the skies on 12 October 2012 with a 32-year-old Boeing 737-200. The aircraft was leased for three months from Star Air Cargo in South Africa. The 737 arrived in Dar es Salaam on 11 October 2012 in Air Tanzania livery and started operations the following day.
In late 2012, the Controller and Auditor General of Tanzania, Ludovick Utouh, recommended the criminal prosecution of three former managers of ATCL for the 2007 lease of the Airbus A320 from Wallis Trading Company, a Lebanese company. The Auditor General said there was massive misappropriation and mismanagement of the leasing agreement, resulting in accumulated debt of US$41.4 million by October 2012, all of which is guaranteed by the government. The aircraft was in ATCL's possession for 48 months, but it spent 41 of those months in France undergoing major maintenance.
Air Tanzania restarted operations to Kigoma on 10 January 2013, using its Bombardier Q300. The airline quickly expanded to domestic routes and even began to fly to Bujumbura, Burundi under new management.
In the airline's search for a new partner in January 2013, the chairman of Al Hayat Development and Investment Company (AHDIC), Sheikh Salim Al-Harthyan, announced plans for an Omani investment corporation to invest US$100 million in Air Tanzania. The money would be used to build an airline training centre and offices for Air Tanzania, buy aircraft, and engage in other development activities that would begin before the end of 2013. In August 2013, AHDIC promised to provide four Embraer 175 and four Bombardiers to Air Tanzania. The Sheikh also said that the original US$100 million investment would be increased gradually. But in May 2014, the media reported no progress had been made and that AHDIC might not be a real company. Sixteen days later, however, AHDIC reaffirmed its interest in the original deal.
Revival (2016 – present)
With his new government in place, President John Magufuli vowed to restore the airline. In May 2016, the government announced plans to purchase two aircraft during 2016 and two additional aircraft during 2017. On 15 September 2016, the president appointed Ladislaus Matindi as director general of the Air Tanzania Company Limited.
In September 2016, the Tanzanian government, through its Tanzania Government Flight Agency (TGFA), took delivery of two Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft at Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam. Those aircraft would be operated by Air Tanzania.
On 2 December 2016, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft announced that the Tanzanian government, acting through its TGFA, had signed firm purchase agreements for two CS300 jetliners and one Q400 turboprop aircraft for lease to Air Tanzania. The CS300 aircraft are now known as Airbus A220-300 aircraft.
On 2 April 2018, Air Tanzania received its third and final Q400 aircraft with tail number 5H-TCE. This aircraft had been scheduled to be delivered in August 2017, but the delivery was delayed after being seized by Canadian contractor Sterling following the Tanzanian government's unwillingness to settle a US$38.7 million debt awarded to the contractor by the International Court of Arbitration in 2010. By March 2018, the legal situation was brought under control and the seized plane was released.
With the new airplanes, Air Tanzania resumed service to various domestic destinations.
On 8 July 2018, Air Tanzania took delivery of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, to be deployed on intercontinental flights. All new aircraft operated by the airline are owned by the Government Flight Agency which then leases them to the airline.
Air Tanzania received its first Airbus A220-300, registered as 5H-TCH, in December 2018. The airline became the first African operator of this aircraft type and the fifth airline globally with an A220 family airplane.
On 11 January 2019, the airline's second Airbus A220-300 aircraft, christened Ngorongoro and registered as 5H-TCI touched down at the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam.
In August 2019, one of the Airbus 220s was seized at O R Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg due to unpaid debt owed by the Tanzanian government. The airline subsequently suspended all flights to South Africa, citing safety concerns over xenophobic attacks.
Air Tanzania is wholly owned by the Government of Tanzania. As of 30 June 2011, its share capital was about TZS 13.4 billion. The board of directors comprises government appointees and has been criticized for having "not a single member with experience in aviation matters".
Financial and other figures for Air Tanzania are not formally published on a regular basis, and (as at February 2012) their accounts for 2008, 2009 and 2010 were reported as still being "in discussion with the auditors". Based on various press reports, government documents and statements by officials, recent trends are:
|Net profit (US$m)||−6.2||−1.9||−25.9|
|Number of employees||300+||182||221||196|
|Number of passengers (000s)||295||207||60|
|Passenger load factor (%)|
|Number of aircraft (at year end)||2||2||1||3||1||1||1||1||1||3||3||5||9|
In April 2021, the Controller and Auditor General warned that Air Tanzania flights flying abroad run the risk of being impounded due to huge debts incurred by the company. He stated that the company had incurred losses of TZS 150 billion (USD 65 million) since 2016. However, the Government of Tanzania announced a bailout of USD 194 million for the airline the following month.
As of November 2021, Air Tanzania serves eight international destinations including regional routes and India. Air Tanzania also serves thirteen domestic destinations from its hub at Dar es Salaam's Julius Nyerere International Airport.
|Boeing 737 MAX||—||2|
|De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400||5||—||70||76|
Accidents and incidents
- 1 March 2010: an Air Tanzania Boeing 737-200 (5H-MVZ) skidded off a wet runway while attempting to land at Mwanza Airport. Its nose wheel collapsed, and its hull and righthand engine were damaged, but no injuries were reported. The aircraft proved too expensive to repair and was permanently stored in Mwanza pending resolution of a claim with the airline's insurer.
- 8 April 2012: an Air Tanzania de Havilland Canada DHC-8-311Q (5H-MWG) crashed while trying to take off at Kigoma Airport. No one was injured, but the aircraft was irreparably damaged.
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