Suspended! Fastjet airline services in Tanzania

Tanzanian aviation authorities temporarily revoked FastJet’s operating license up through the end of January next year, quoting the cancellation of its trips and huge debt accumulation the airline owes its contractors and the government of Tanzania.

Aviation authorities in Tanzania’s commercial hub of Dar es Salaam said late on Monday that FastJet had failed to address operating issues which led to severe flight disruptions.

Airline officials said late last week that its flights would be canceled through the end of January.

Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) said on Monday that Fastjet Tanzania has lost its qualifications to operate in Tanzania due to frequent cancellation of its daily frequent flights.

The authority also added that the African budget airline owed huge amounts to service providers, including the TCAA. He revealed that Fastjet owed around US$600,000 (Tshs 1.4 billion) to the government of Tanzania through provision of services including security and other regulatory fees.

TCAA Director General Hamza Johari had called on all service providers who are owed by FatstJet to send their invoices to the Civil Aviation Authority for action.

The Authority issued a 28-day notice for the airline to submit its financial and business plans after the company was taken over by Tanzanian investors.

Johari said FastJet had insufficient planes for flights, a situation that had led them to lose qualifications of doing business in this African nation. “We call on people to look for alternative airlines as Fastjet cannot operate,” he said.

Fastjet had posted a notice last week saying that it has cancelled all trips planned for December and January 2019 due to operational issues, which it did not explain, forcing customers who had already booked tickets to look for other airlines.

It has been reported that the airline suspended its domestic and foreign flights, and then forced more than 100 passengers to spend a night in town.

“We had suspended all foreign trips by Fastjet since the start of this month this year after realizing that the airline was facing a financial crisis. The company will resume the foreign trips after we are fully satisfied that it has the capacity to operate,” said Johari said.

FastJet launched its scheduled passenger flights in 2012 amid tough conditions in Tanzania. It operates its regional flights from Dar es Salaam to Lusaka in Zambia, Harare (Zimbabwe), Maputo (Mozambique), and Johannesburg in South Africa.

All flights to and from South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique have not been affected in the airline’s crisis.

Tanzania is among African nations rich in tourism, but facing air transport woes for about four decades after the collapse of East African Airways (EAA), has over the past 40 years, led to the establishment of Air Tanzania Company (ATCL) which has been flying at a snail’s pace since then.

Only PrecisionAir, the leading privately-owned local airline, has survived the turbulent skies of this African country for more than two decades.

PrecisionAir is now flying to most of Tanzania’s key destinations including the tourist city of Arusha, Moshi on the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, the tourist island of Zanzibar, and Lake Victoria’s city of Mwanza. The airline also connects Tanzania’s key tourist and business cities to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, the East African safari hub.

Suspension of FastJet’s domestic flights in Tanzania is yet another blow to passengers as demand for more air transport seats increase.