Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa made this observation in the National Assembly yesterday while presenting budget estimates for his office for the 2021/22 fiscal year.
The planes now expected are two Airbus A220-300 and a Dash 8-Q400 De-Havilland, which the premier said were needed to further boost the Air Tanzania Corporation (ATCL) fleet and the country’s economic growth through a vibrant aviation sector.
The new acquisitions come at a time when there are calls from some quarters for caution on the revival of ATCL which has suffered losses running into billions of shillings for five consecutive years.
“The government will in the forthcoming fiscal year invest heavily in the rehabilitation and expansion of airports so as to facilitate smooth operations and growth of the aviation sector,” the premier affirmed, noting that the arrival of the new airplanes bring the number of planes procured by the government to 12.
He hailed ATCL for commencing flights to Guangzhou, a major commercial hub in China, something that will spur investment, increase tourist arrivals and attract investors not only in the aviation industry but in manufacturing, thus propelling the country’s industrialisation goal.
Majaliwa underlined that Air Tanzania is one of the government's flagship infrastructure development projects, with the purpose of making the country a regional air transport hub. The move to procure new planes will undercut debate on the future of the national carrier in the wake of a CAG annual report focusing on losses.
Last week, the Speaker of the National Assembly underscored the need for MPs to be bold and advise the government on proper measures to take on ATCL in view of its having made losses amounting to billions of shillings, welcoming lawmakers to debate the tabled new five year national development plan.
The Speaker particularly wanted MPs to discuss whether it is wise to continue purchasing airplanes or suspend the exercise in view of the losses incurred.
“The CAG report has revealed massive loss in ATCL, so we should think if we should continue purchasing more planes or stop and strengthen operations of planes already purchased,” he declared.
The latest audit report by the Controller and Auditor General released in Dodoma last week shows that the government had until June 2020 spent a total of 1.028 trn/- on purchasing eight aircraft lent to ATCL. However, the national carrier had recorded a cumulative loss of 153.542bn/- in the past five years with 60.246bn/- suffered in the 2019/20 financial year alone.
“This means ATCL has been piling up losses since the government started pumping billions of shillings into its revival in 2016 with new operating systems, staff and a fleet of brand new aircraft,” MPs stated..
A cross-section of experts told The Guardian in an interview last week that ATCL was hastily revived in 2016 without a proper business plan which must be put in place before the national carrier receives any further investments.