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African nation bans another’s airline in diplomatic row

Tanzania claims the decision to withdraw approval for Kenya’s national carrier is a retaliatory measure

Tanzania has revoked authorization for Kenya’s flagship airline to operate passenger flights between the two East African countries, starting next week. The move is in response to a similar action by Kenyan authorities, the Tanzanian Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) said in a statement on Monday.

According to TCAA, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority denied Air Tanzania the necessary approvals to operate cargo flights, in violation of a 2016 air services agreement signed by Nairobi and Tanzania.

This is to reciprocate the decision by the aeronautical authorities of the Republic of Kenya to refuse the Tanzanian request for all-cargo flight operations by Air Tanzania Company Limited under Fifth Freedom Traffic Rights between Nairobi and Third countries,” TCAA stated.

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Following this decision, there shall be no passenger flights by Kenya Airways between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam from January 22, 2024,” it added.

It is the latest in a series of trade disputes to plague the eight-member East African Community economic bloc. Kenya has already banned imports of milk from its neighbor Uganda and farm produce from Tanzania, which has also restricted the shipment of onions to Nairobi.

Late last month, Uganda filed a lawsuit against Kenya in the East African Court of Justice for denying a license to the Uganda National Oil Company, a government-owned oil marketer, to operate locally and handle fuel imports at Mombasa port.

On Monday, Kenya Airways (KQ) said in a statement posted on X (formerly Twitter) that it had taken note of Tanzania’s decision to revoke its operational approvals.

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Kenya Airways is engaging the Civil Aviation Authorities and relevant government agencies in Kenya and Tanzania to find a solution that will ensure there are no flight disruptions between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam,” it said.

Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Musalia Mudavadi has stated that the Tanzanian government’s action should not be a cause for worry.

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Mudavadi and his Tanzanian counterpart, January Makamba, said in separate statements on X that both countries have agreed to “work together to have the matter resolved amicably within the next three days.”

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KQ, one of Africa’s largest airlines, reportedly makes three to four round trips per day to the Tanzanian port city of Dar es Salaam. Tanzania is home to the continent’s tallest mountain and other attractions, such as vast wildlife reserves. It attracts over a million tourists every year, making it one of the airline’s most important markets.

January 16, 2024 at 08:02PM
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