Tanzania bans three more Kenyan airlines

Flight attendants board a Fly540 plane in Nairobi on March 18, 2011. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Nairobi and Dar are locked in a standoff over entry restrictions of Tanzania nationals under coronavirus measures.
  • The Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) revoked the approvals for AirKenya Express, Fly540, and Safarilink Aviation on Tuesday.

Tanzania has banned three more Kenyan airlines from its airspace as the standoff over the management of Covid-19 escalates.

This comes barely three weeks after a similar move was taken against the national carrier, Kenya Airways, following Kenya’s insistence that Tanzanians have to quarantine for 14 days to be allowed entry into the country.

On Tuesday, the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) nullified the approval granted to Fly 540, Air Kenya Express and Safarilink Aviation, in what is now an escalation of the differences it is having with Nairobi. The Three airlines operated daily flights to and from Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar.

“Reference is made to the approval for your summer schedule application extended to Air Kenya Express. The approval was granted to Air Kenya for schedule flight operations between Nairobi and Kilimanjaro with effect from March 27 to October 25. However, we regret to inform you that this approval is hereby nullified,” TCAA director-general Hamza Johari said in the letter to Air Kenya’s operations manager.

TCAA did not give any reasons as to why it was nullifying the approvals, only informing the privately-owned Kenyan airlines that this notice now rescinds any previous approval allowing it to fly to Tanzania.

“You will therefore be allowed to apply afresh for any operations into Tanzania before consideration can be made,” Mr Johari added.

“The basis of the decision to nullify our approval for the three Kenyan airlines is the ongoing dispute between the two countries,” Mr Johari told The Citizen, a Nation Media Group subsidiary, adding: “The ban on Kenya’s four airlines would not be lifted unless air travellers from Tanzania are accorded the same treatment as those on the list. Some countries’ nationalities can enter Kenya without the same conditions despite having extremely high rates of Covid-19 infections.”

The two neighbouring states are locked in a disagreement over the handling of passengers arriving from Dar es Salaam, after Kenya excluded Tanzania from the list of countries whose nationals would be allowed entry under revised coronavirus restrictions.

Early this month, TCAA rescinded the approval of the 14 weekly flights by Kenya Airways into the country until further notice. The Tanzania aviation agency said that it had revoked approval granted to Kenya Airways to resume international flights to Tanzania “on reciprocal basis”.

The retaliation was a reaction to Kenya’s omission of Tanzania from the list of countries allowed to resume international flights into Kenya, after Nairobi insisted all passengers from Tanzania must be quarantined upon landing in Nairobi.

Last week, Nairobi expanded the list whose nationals are allowed entry without the mandatory 14-day quarantine to 100 countries, but Tanzania is still missing from it.

On Tuesday, Kenya reiterated its stand that all high-risk tourists visiting the country, including Tanzanians, will have to undergo 14-day quarantine.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said that the Kenyan and Tanzanian governments are working towards a modality that will see its national carriers, Kenya Airways and Precision Air resume operations between the two countries.

“We are working on it, we will have Precision Air and KQ travel between the two countries very soon,” Mr Balala said.