Three more Kenyan airlines locked out in Tanzania as the two countries’ apparent standoff over management of COVID-19 deteriorates.
Aviation authorities in Tanzania on Tuesday, August 25, 2020, issued the ban against AirKenya Express, Fly540, and Safarilink Aviation, all from Nairobi.
Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) Director General Hamza Johari confirmed to have banned the Kenyan airlines at the ending of this week.
“The basis of the decision to nullify our approval for the three Kenyan airlines is the ongoing dispute between the two countries,” said Mr. Johari.
On August 1, 2020, TCAA banned Kenya’s national carrier, Kenya Airways (KQ), from flying into Tanzania, a decision which the regulator said was on a reciprocal basis after Kenya omitted Tanzania from a list of countries that would see arriving passengers face less health restrictions for fear of COVID-19 infections.
Kenya has since expanded the list to 100 countries whose arriving passengers are allowed to enter Kenya without the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Tanzania was still missing from the list.
Before Tuesday’s ban, AirKenya Express and Fly540 each flew to Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar seven times a week. Safarilink Aviation had most of the trips, operating seven frequencies on each of its Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar routes per week.
The companies had not reacted to the ban as of August 26, 2020. Kenya Airways on its part said recently that the matter was being handled between the two countries before it would know when to resume flights.
Kenya Airways, which operates its regional hub from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, had a permit to fly 14 times to Dar es Salaam every week, three times to Kilimanjaro, and two times to Zanzibar, mostly ferrying tourists and business travelers between the two destinations.
Mr. Johari said the Kenyan airlines locked out with a ban on four airlines will not be lifted unless air travelers from Tanzania are included in the list of the countries whose passengers are exempted from quarantine. “Some countries are allowed to enter Kenya without the same condition despite having a very high rate of COVID-19 infections,” Johari said.
Mr. Johari said it was surprising that Tanzania, which he said is safe from the pandemic, did not make the cut in Kenya’s clear list.
According to Johari, the ban on Kenya’s four airlines would not be lifted unless air travelers from Tanzania are given the same treatment as those on the list.
The banned Kenyan airlines were providing services to tourists visiting Northern Tanzania, mostly those connecting their travel itineraries from Nairobi.