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AIR Tanzania Company Ltd (ATCL) has retrenched 128 workers and remains with 172 employees in a move aimed at retaining essential staff only.
The Minister for Transport, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, said in Dar es Salaam that the idea is to reduce the number to at least 50 staff.
"We are continuing with the work of cleansing ATCL and we have managed to reduce the number of staff to 172 from the previous 300. The idea is to retain a small number of up to 50 essential staff," he said.
Dr Mwakyembe noted that ATCL still has comprehensive revitalisation plans. He, however, declined to give details but noted that the government was confident that the future would be fine.
"We want to remain with a few but essential staff as a way of making ATCL an efficient company and interesting to investors who are eying to enter in partnership with it," he said.
The cash-strapped airline currently operates only two Dash-8 Bombardiers but was understood to have a 337-strong workforce. The state-run airline is surviving on government subsidy and sources say the downsizing of the workforce was the least painful way to save on unnecessary expenditure and help it possibly run off life support.
In January last year, the government rescued ATCL from financial doldrums with the disbursement of a second bailout package to the tune of 4.5bn/-. The firm has experienced a series of problems since its marriage with "strategic investor" South African Airline (SAA) collapsed in 2006.
The problems included the December 8, 2008 decision by the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) to revoke the new-look airline's Air Operating Certificate over faulty documentation. TCAA imposed the ban after the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) threatened to rate Tanzania as not airworthy.
The airline fulfilled TCAA's requirements three weeks later (December 30) and its planes were allowed to start flying again.

ATCL, formerly Air Tanzania Corporation (ATC), was established in March 1977 after the collapse of East African Airways and other regional institutions previously under the ill-fated first-phase East African Community. ATC was taken over by SAA in 2002 and renamed ATCL before the government reclaimed all its shares in the firm four years later.
Tanzania Daily News.

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