Criticism has begun to emerge over the proposed merger of the national flag carriers of Tanzania and Uganda into Alliance, the joint-venture carrier led by South African Airways (SAA). Alliance is pressing ahead with plans for fleet and network expansion, however.

Ministers from Tanzania and Uganda agreed "in principle" to the merger in March, but the deal has already been condemned by the chief executive of Air Tanzania, who says that he can foresee "difficulties" if it is to go ahead.

Alliance, set up two years ago with a single Boeing 747SP, is 40% owned by SAA, with the other national carriers each holding a further 10% and their respective governments 5%. The remaining 30% is held by private investors.

Alliance remains optimistic that the merger plans will go ahead rapidly and should be completed over the next couple of years. It also denies that the merger has been proposed for political, rather than commercial, reasons.

International services will remain the preserve of Alliance, while domestic and regional flights will provide feed for the international service at Entebbe and Dar es Salaam, operating under the banner of Alliance Air Express.

Meanwhile, Alliance expects to introduce new medium- and long-haul routes imminently. The airline plans to lease an Airbus A320 this year to serve proposed routes to Dubai and Bombay, and will add a Boeing 767 in early 1998. The airline will launch flights to Kilimanjaro International, in Tanzania, in August and is understood to be at an advanced stage in negotiations to serve Lusaka, Zambia.

Source: Flight International