Kenya, Tanzania Issue Timeline On Resolving Flight Standoff
Kenya’s Prime Cabinet Secretary (CS) and CS for Foreign Affairs Musalia Mudavadi and Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation January Makamba revealed that they held conversations with each other on the matter.
The governments of Kenya and Tanzania have given themselves three days to resolve a flight row that escalated when the latter announced the suspension of Kenya Airways (KQ) flights on the Dar es Salaam route effective January 22, 2024.
Through social media posts published on Monday evening, January 15, hours after the announcement was made by the Tanzanian Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA), Kenya’s Prime Cabinet Secretary (CS) and CS for Foreign Affairs Musalia Mudavadi and Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation January Makamba revealed that they held conversations with each other on the matter.
Mudavadi on his part assured Kenyans that there was nothing to fear as both governments committed to resolving the issue within the three days.
Kenya Airways planes at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). /FILE
"I have this evening spoken to H.E. January Makamba (MP), Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania, with regard to the decision of the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority to rescind the approvals for Kenya Airways to operate passenger flights between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam with effect from 22nd January 2024," he stated,
"We have jointly agreed that our respective Civil Aviation Authorities will work together to have the matter resolved amicably within the next three days. There should therefore be no cause for alarm."
On his part, Makamba wrote "I spoke to my Kenyan colleague Musalia Mudavadi. We agree that restrictions on air travel between our countries and from any of our countries to a third country shouldn’t stand. With relevant authorities, we’ve resolved to settle this issue, per existing agreements, within 3 days."
Transport Cabinet Secretary (CS) Kipchumba Murkomen also issued a statement on the matter, revealing that he initiated immediate discussions with his counterpart in Tanzania, Makame Mbarawa, to resolve the matter, hailing Tanzania as Kenya's neighbour and great economic partner.
The statements by the ministers came moments after KQ issued an abrupt statement announcing that it was notified regarding the Public Notice issued by the TCAA.
The notice had announced the blocking of the airline from operating flights on the Nairobi-Dar es Salaam route in response to Kenya's refusal to grant Air Tanzania all-cargo flight operations between Nairobi & Third countries
"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," a statement from the airline read in part.
The Tanzanian aviation regulator had cited a reciprocation of 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 added that this was contrary to Section 4 of the Memorandum of Understanding on Air Services, between Tanzania and Kenya signed on November 24, 2016, in Nairobi.
Fifth freedom rights allow an airline to carry passengers or cargo from one foreign country to another while stopping in the airline’s own country.
Third and fourth freedom rights allow an airline to carry passengers or cargo between its own country and another foreign country.
The latest continued a long streak of feuds between the two East African countries neighbouring each other over air transport rights.
In August 2020, Tanzania barred Kenya Airways from flying into the country after Kenya excluded Tanzania from a list of countries whose passengers were allowed to enter Kenya amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The ban was later lifted, but tensions remained high.
It is worth noting that Kenya Airways operates 33 scheduled flights weekly between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, that is four flights a day between the two major cities.
KQ's rival, Air Tanzania, the flag carrier of Tanzania, operates three weekly flights between Dar es Salaam and Nairobi, and one weekly flight between Dar es Salaam and Mombasa.