(eTN) – There are growing indications that the breaking news story yesterday morning in Tanzania’s Daily News about the alleged ban of Precision Air by Zanzibari authorities is both a fluke as well as very likely a targeted attempt to turn public opinion against Tanzania’s only DSE-listed airline.
The airline industry in Tanzania had undergone a transformation of sorts since upstart FastJet commenced operations in November last year, but the bad headlines about that airline, first over legal wrangles with partner Fly 540 – now apparently resolved after months of bitter public spats and court action – then the court case over allegations that an expatriate staff verbally abused a local employee, and more recently when flights just launched to Zanzibar were taken off the schedule again, have kept the public at large wondering what was going on in the corporate suites and skies above.
It is in particular the Zanzibar issue here which is now making pundits wonder in whose best interest it was to launch the story that Precision Air was banned from flying to the Spice Island. Rumors are flying wild and fast at present about possible motives and suggested vested interests playing a major role, though lacking evidence to support them and pinpoint those responsible, for now at least.
Precision Air in the meantime issued the following statement, prompted by the Daily News story, to reassure the public that indeed flights to Zanzibar are continuing:
“Following the story published in The Daily News … ISSN 0856-3812 dated May 3, 2013 (ZRZ pins Precision Air over 3.4bn/- unpaid taxes) quoting from a letter sent from the Zanzibar Revenue Board (ZRB) to Precision Air Services Plc in which it recorded the ZRB’s instructions to ‘restrain departure of all flights operated by Precision Air Services, as well as closure of its offices,’ Precision Air has the following statement to make.
“Speaking at its HQ, Precision Air Services MD and CEO, Ms. Sauda Rajab, released a statement to clarify the situation at hand and reassured the public of continued operations in Zanzibar.
“‘We wish to notify our passengers and the Tanzania Nation at large that your airline is still in full operation of its route to Zanzibar. Neither the Zanzibar Revenue Board (ZRB) nor the airport authorities have refused our fleet from touching ground in the Spice Isles,’ commented Ms. Sauda Rajab, CEO and MD of Precision Air.
“She further confirms that the Zanzibar Revenue Board had raised concerns which were discussed by both parties in a meeting held on Monday, April 29, 2013 which resulted to mutual agreement. PW is also said to be receiving full support and cooperation from ZRB. ‘This simply has been a matter of miscommunication between parties, but we are delighted that after our discussion, our offices are indeed open for business, and we welcome you all to continue with your travel plans. We couldn’t be in a better working relationship with ZRB as we are today.’
“As declared in the statement dated May 3, 2013 and published in the company’s website, Precision Air promises to continue maintaining to be the safest and competitive airline of choice in the country in providing need-based transportation services and equipment to all areas in Tanzania and beyond.
“Precision air is the only airline in Tanzania listed on DSE and earlier this year was listed for the first time as Superbrand in East Africa. Precision Air has the largest network than any other airline in Tanzania with operational stations in 18 destinations within and outside Tanzania with Dar es Salaam being its hub and now developing Mwanza as its second hub. Over the past year, the airline added 2 aircrafts (2 ATR 42-600) bringing the fleet to 9 ATRs and 2 Boeings.”
As always, time will tell what is what, but for now, all flights by Precision Air are continuing, to Zanzibar and across the entire domestic and regional network the airline has been building up over time.