Dar es Salaam. The fate of Kenya Airways (KQ) flights into Tanzania could be known anytime from today after a crisis meeting involving officials from the ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation and their Transport counterparts from Kenya.
Tanzania had initially endorsed KQ flights into the country - but changed the position on Friday last week in retaliatory response after Kenya omitted Tanzania from its list of countries whose flights would not see passengers quarantined for 14 days before being let into the country.
The move meant that every passenger from Tanzania who enters Kenya will have to be quarantined for 14 days upon entering Kenya irrespective of his/her Covid-19 status.
Tanzanian authorities believe that this was a deliberate attempt to deny Tanzania of its rightful earnings from tourism, especially at this time around when the Serengeti wildebeest migration is almost on.
Tanzanians believe that cases of Covid-19 have gone down to negligible levels.
Putting a passenger, who has travelled from Tanzania to Kenya on quarantine, means that he/she will spend all his/her cash in a Kenyan hotel during the 14-day quarantine before proceeding or returning.
Works, Transport and Communications minister Isack Kamwelwe told a local radio station that the Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation ministry had organised a meeting that will be held today, seeking to come up with concrete reasons behind Kenya’s decision.
“We will have a meeting on Tuesday (today) with the Foreign Affairs ministry to establish what happened and why Kenya took the decision to put our people on quarantine… The media should also be helping us with market intelligence because we must all defend Tanzania’s economy,” he said.
KQ country manager for Tanzania Joyce Mcharo said yesterday that they were still eagerly waiting for the permit, exuding optimism that the standoff would be resolved soon.
“Tanzanians and Kenyans are relatives. We are positive this (tiff) will be amicably resolved,” she said.
Ms Mcharo added that KQ would resume operations soon after securing a permit from Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA).
Before revoking it, KQ had secured the permit to fly 14 times to Dar es Salaam weekly, three times to Kilimanjaro and two times to Zanzibar, according to TCAA.
Ms Mcharo said the decision by the regulator to revoke the KQ’s permit meant the airline could not offer the services they would have loved to offer between Kenya and Tanzania.
“But that is just a temporary hitch. I hope it will be resolved sooner than later,” said Ms Mcharo.
Kenya’s Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia on Saturday said that KQ will be flying to Tanzania as the two countries had sorted out the growing diplomatic row between them.
Last week, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia told reporters that he had held talks with Tanzanian minister for Works, Transport and Communication Kamwelwe to iron out what he termed “a misunderstanding”.
He said after the talks, he was optimistic TCAA would reinstate the withdrawn KQ permit to fly into Tanzania. Mr Kwamwelwe told The Citizen yesterday to wait until the matter was resolved.
The countries announced by the Kenyan government to have flights into Kenya without restrictions are Uganda, Rwanda, Namibia, Morocco, Ethiopia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, UAE, Qatar, Italy, UK, France, Switzerland, USA (except California, Florida and Texas).