Business leaders say Tanzania’s move to block over 60 percent of Kenya Airways flights, reportedly over Fastjet’s lack of access to the Kenyan market, will only hurt the economy.
“I consider this a wrong decision. The implications for the tourism industry will be big,” says travel publisher Victor Mollel.
“This is a decision that will add problems to the Union because our mainland colleagues did not care to organize how tourists coming to Zanzibar would be catered for now,” says former Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors (ZATI) chairman Abdulsamad Said Ahmed.
“In the absence of a national carrier, this smacks of a desperate and self-defeatist move,” says Ahmed.
Ahmed says the move by the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) is to protect Fastjet and get even with Kenya.
Budget airline Fastjet, which is backed by Easyjet’s founder, has attempted to enter the Kenyan market by trying to purchase Fly540 and also independently, but both attempts failed.
Kenya’s Daily Nation reports that a 2011 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) says only airlines with substantial local ownership are allowed to operate services between the two countries.
The Daily Nation says Tanzania had attempted to circumnavigate this MoU on the ‘principal place of business and effective regulatory control as additional designation criteria for its airlines’ in an attempt to allow Fastjet to expand into Kenya.
Kenya’s Ministry of Transport refused, citing their Bilateral Air Service Agreement (Basa) — and that’s when Tanzania decided to block the Kenya Airways flights.
“We were just doing Kenya Airways a favour, but now TCAA has acted in accordance with the Basa,” says Tanzania’s Transport Minister Samuel Sitta.
If you’re flying Kenya Airways and haven’t heard from them yet: don’t panic.
Their reduced schedule has been re-worked up to Sunday, March 22, Kenya Airways call centre staff confirm, and further changes to the schedule will be made as necessary.
Local Kenya Airways customer inquires can be directed to: +255 786 390 005
Read more: Kenya – Tanzania squabble takes flight