TANZANIA’S main airline, Precision Air plans to launch flights into Zambia, as part of its ambitious and rational expansion into the regional markets.
Chairperson Michael Shirima has said the airline intends to strengthen its presence in the region, and has named Zambia as one of the markets that Precision Air was eager to penetrate.
According to Reuters news agency, the airline wants to sell a third of its shares in an initial public offering (IPO) through the stock exchange in that country by the end of the year to fund the expansion programme.
Partly owned by Kenya Airways, with a 49 percent stake, Precision Air is the main carrier in Tanzania, operating ATR 72-500 and ATR 42 planes and a Boeing 737 to 13 destinations in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
But Mr Shirima told the news agency on Tuesday that the airline would now be looking more to markets in the Southern African region, ruling out launching of overseas international routes because of associated risks.
He said on Tuesday the IPO would fund new aircraft and more services in the regional economic blocs to which Tanzania belonged such as the Southern African Development Community and the East African Community (EAC).
“International routes are a bit risky. We will focus on expansion of regional routes to countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Angola, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi and EAC member states,” Mr Shirima said.
However, he said it was not clear how much will be raised through the offer.
Precision Air has already sought regulatory approval for the sale of the shares, which will result in Kenya Airways cutting its stake to 34 per cent.
“We envisage achieving this goal by October, but have been delayed by legal requirements. The target is to offer the IPO before year end,” he said.
Mr Shirima started the company in 1993, offering charter services with a five-seat Piper Aztec plane. Kenya Airways, which bought its stake in 2003, was not immediately available for comment.
Precision Air said late last year it planned to invest about US$300 million within three years to expand its fleet.
[Times of Zambia]