In a dramatic turn of events, tensions between Kenya and Tanzania over flight rights were diffused just in the nick of time, averting a potentially damaging dispute. The African aviation landscape was shaken when Tanzania issued a notice, suspending all passenger flights between Dar es Salaam and Nairobi starting January 22. This move was a direct response to Kenya’s refusal of fifth freedom rights for Air Tanzania’s cargo flights between Nairobi and third countries.
However, swift diplomatic maneuvers unfolded behind the scenes to deescalate the situation. In a late-night tweet, Musalia Mudavadi, Kenya’s Prime Cabinet Secretary and Foreign & Diaspora Affairs Minister, announced ongoing efforts to resolve the differences. The tweet assured that both countries’ Civil Aviation Authorities were collaborating to amicably settle the matter within the next three days, quelling any potential alarms.
Responding to the diplomatic initiative, January Makamba, Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation of Tanzania, confirmed the contact and emphasized the mutual agreement to swiftly resolve the issue within the stipulated timeframe. The exchange marked a diplomatic breakthrough, preventing a disruption that could have caused significant inconvenience to air passengers across the region.
Kenya Airways, with its 33 scheduled flights per week between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, stood at the center of this potential crisis. The resolution underscores the importance of diplomatic channels in maintaining the smooth functioning of regional air travel.