The governments of Tanzania and South Africa have agreed to separate the ailing Air Tanzania Corporation from South African Airways.
The Tanzanian government has already received a report from a technical committee appointed to investigate the status of its national carrier, which was partly privatised in 2002 after South African Airways bought 49 per cent of its shares for $20 million.
Tanzania Infrastructure Minister Basil Mramba last week said the government was working to "serve its national interests."
Mr Mramba added, "I’ll let you know what has been decided when the time comes. For now, we are still working on on the matter."
Speaking from Johannesburg, South African Airways spokesman Jacqui O’Sullivan said the carrier was at last week still holding discussions with the government over the status of the partnership between the two carriers.
"The discussions are at a formative stage and it would be inappropriate to speculate on the outcome of the process," she told The EastAfrican. However, Ms O’Sullivan said the challenges at ATCL arise from a multiplicity of causes, and SAA cannot take the blame for its failure.
The Tanzania government last month set up a technical committee to look into separating the two airlines.
The report has not been made public yet, but it is expected to advise the government on how to sustain the airline until a new disposal strategy is sought.
Gaynor Kast, spokesman for the Ministry of Public Enterprises in South Africa said an agreement had been reached between the two countries to facilitate an expeditious and mutually acceptable disengagement by SAA from its Tanzanian counterpart, to secure expeditious return of ATCL aircraft under repairs in South Africa, and to provide for continued commercial co-operation between the two airlines. "The process of negotiation of a share sale is soon to commence, and until the key terms and conditions have been finalised, any further comment will be premature," she said.
The technical committee, led by Nshoya Magoti – a consultant with the Presidential Parastatal Sector Reform Commission – included experts from Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority, ATCL, Tanzania Airports Authority, Ministry of Planning, Economy and Empowerment, Attorney General’s Chambers and the Ministry of Infrastructure Development.
While the government ponders its decision over the inevitable split, ATCL is on the verge of collapsing.
Recently, it reduced its flights to Kilimanjaro International Airport, Zanzibar, Mwanza and Johannesburg due to its growing incapacity to handle passengers.
Two of its aircraft are in South Africa for maintenance and pledges by SAA to bring in three more Boeing aircraft into the partnership have not materialised.