Kenya Airways (KQ) has responded to Tanzania’s decision to suspend its passenger flights to Dar es Salaam, in what appears to be a major blow to East Africa’s largest airline.
In a communication from the KQ’s Corporate Communications office, the airline said it’s engaging civil aviation authorities from both countries to reach an amicable solution to avoid passenger flights disruption.
“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,” said KQ in a statement.
On Monday evening, Tanzania made clear its decision to suspend all passenger flights operated by KQ to Dar es Salaam effective January 22, 2024.
Tanzania said it was a retaliation for Kenya’s refusal to allow Tanzania’s national carrier, Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL), to operate cargo flights between Nairobi and other countries.
Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) said KQ flights suspension was based on the principle of reciprocity after Kenya violated a bilateral agreement on air services signed in 2016.
“Kenya Airways operates 33 scheduled flights per week between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. This decision is based on the principle of reciprocity, following the refusal by the Kenyan authorities to grant approval for ATCL’s cargo flights despite the clear provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding on Air Services, between Tanzania and Kenya signed on 24 November 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya.
Tanzania would always adhere to the principles of the Chicago Convention of 1944 and the bilateral air services agreement between the two states,” reads a statement in part from TCAA.
While there are alternative airlines that operate on the route, the loss of KQ’s flights will likely lead to reduced options and potentially higher fares for travellers.
The dispute between Kenya and Tanzania over air travel rights has been simmering for several months, as the two countries have clashed over various issues, such as Covid-19 protocols, trade barriers, and border disputes.
The current situation raises concerns about the future of air travel and cooperation between the two East African neighbours.