Tanzania, Kenya pull back from the brink after Nairobi waves olive branch
Kenya and Tanzania pulled back from the brink of a potentially damaging dispute over flight rights, after Nairobi waived an olive branch, just in time.
African aviation was jolted Monday afternoon, after news broke that Tanzania had served notice to Kenya, suspending all passenger flights between Dar es Salaam and Nairobi effective January 22. Signed by Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority Director General Hamza Johari, the notice explained that the suspension was in retaliation for Kenya’s denial of fifth freedom rights for Air Tanzania to operate cargo flights between Nairobi and third countries.
In a swift behind the scenes move however, diplomacy swung into action to deescalate. In a tweet late Monday, Musalia Mudavadi, Kenya’s Prime Cabinet Secretary and Foreign & Diaspora Affairs Minister, announced that efforts to resolve the differences had been launched.
“I have this evening spoken to H.E. @JMakamba (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 @KenyaAirways to operate passenger flights between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam with effect from 22nd January 2024. 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.
The post was immediately followed by a rejoinder from January Makamba confirming the contact.
“I spoke to my Kenyan colleague @MusaliaMudavadi. We agree that restrictions of 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.”
Without resolution, the threatened suspension would cause massive disruption and inconvenience to air passengers across the region. Kenya Airways operates 33 scheduled flights a week between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.