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ATCL wings to spread to India, China in due course

THE Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) is likely to launch direct flights to India and China next month and May, respectively, as the government finalises procedures with those countries.

Works, Transport and Communication Minister Isack Kamwelwe stated that the Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Minister Palamagamba Kabudi is currently communicating with the two countries over the matter.

“By end of this month, we will have completed procedures and become ready for flying to the two countries. In the next two years, we will also start flying to Europe,” Eng Kamwelwe noted at the weekend.

He was speaking when officiating at the graduation ceremony for the first batch of a cabin crew course at the National Institute of Transport (NIT).

He said efforts to revive the ATCL were on course, with allocation of at least 900bn/- in this year’s budget for that purpose.

A total of 24 cabin crew students graduated over the weekend. The minister promised to link the institute with the Higher Education Students’ Loans Board (HESLB) so that the students could access loans because some of the courses offered are expensive, particularly those relating to air transport.

NIT’s Rector Prof Zacharia Mganilwa, said the country’s transport sector was growing very fast, thus demanding more professionals.

He explained that the number of air transport passengers had increased by 67 per cent from 2.9 million in 2010 to 4.9 million in 2017.

In efforts to address a shortfall of air transport professionals, the NIT also trains aircraft maintenance engineers, expecting to produce its first batch of such professionals this year. Statistics indicate that by 2016, the country had only 74 against the needed 236 aircraft engineers.

Air transport is the most preferred method of access to Tanzania for international visitors, making the sector important and heavily relied upon.

By 2016, there were 21 airlines operating at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) in Dar es Salaam, the country’s largest and busiest airport.

Efforts are also underway to start training pilots at the institute, a move which can save money that the government has been spending on training such experts abroad.

Preparations to start this training are at an advanced stage, including setting up infrastructures, including classrooms.

Prof Mganilwa said they were now waiting for the purchase of five trainer aircrafts for the institute to obtain accreditation from the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA).

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Author: BERNARD LUGONGO

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