Few people know that the largest Aircraft maintenance facility on the African Continent only exists in Tanzania. Boasting a floor space of 62,000 square feet, with an additional 9,000 square feet used as office space, the giant hangar is located at the Kilimanjaro International Airport.
The facility is currently leased by the Tanzanite Jet Centre Limited (Tanjet) under the lease agreement from 2006 to 2016 ‘with a potential extension based on expected investment’. Except at the moment the giant structure also plays the role of being the largest Beehive in the world.
“During the months of June and July swarm of bees usually like to nest into the Hangar rendering operations to be a bit of a challenge,” pointed out Captain Susan Mashibe, the Executive Director of TanJet.
The hangar was officially handed over to the Kilimanjaro Airports Development Company (KADCO) in 2001 after being under the national carrier, Air Tanzania Corporation (ATC) which intended to use the facility for its aircrafts’ maintenance activities through the Kilimanjaro Airport Maintenance Facility (KIMAFA), a plan which was however short lived.
Valued at over US$ 20 million, the Kilimanjaro International Airport Hangar is said to be the largest in Africa, being capable of handling a large aircraft such as the Boeing 747 or both the ATR 42 and MD 11 aircrafts, or three ATR 42s at the same time.
Yet despite having such a facility in Tanzania, local aircrafts are still taken to Nairobi – Kenya, for maintenance. The hangar may have potential economic bearing but most of the time is idle and sometimes in the past the aircraft ‘garage’ used to be temporarily leased out to a United Arabian Emirates, (UAE) firm during the latter’s hunting seasons in Arusha.
The hangar at KIA was constructed in 1979 and was officially inaugurated for service in 1985, however since the air terminal proved to be less busy then, all aircraft maintenance activities under KIMAFA were moved to Dar-es-Salaam airport (then DIA).
For many years Air Tanzania claimed that following the collapse of the East African Community (EAC) in 1977, all the buildings at KIA (the hangar included) were transferred to ATC, and indeed for more than 20 years the hangar remained the property of ATC.
At the moment, on behalf of the Government, through the Ministry of Transport, KADCO in collaboration with Tanzanite Jet Centre Limited (Tanjet) is looking for potential strategic partner to establish scheduled and non-scheduled aircraft maintenance services at the hangar facility at KIA.
“Tanjet is currently using the Hangar at a very small scale operation and market. KADCO in cooperation with Tanjet is looking for potential investor to join hands to enlarge operation activities and the use of the Hangar,” says a statement from the Airport Management.
The potential investor is expected to enter into a joint venture or partnership with the Tanzanite Jet Centre Limited to establish a large scale operation for maintenance, charter operations, ground handling and flight school (Fixed Based Operator).
By MARC NKWAME, Tanzania Daily News