Mwinyi commissions Dnata, as handlers ponder laying off staff

Zanzibar’s President Hussein Mwinyi speaks during the launch of Dnata's operations at Zanzibar's Abeid Amani Karume International Airport on January 26, 2023. PHOTO | COURTESY


  • The commissioning of Dnata, a new ground handler with exclusive rights to the Terminal 3 building, comes at a time when the existing ground handlers are considering laying off staff

Unguja. Zanzibar’s President Hussein Mwinyi on Thursday, January 26, commissioned the operations of ground handling company Dnata Zanzibar at the Abied Amani Karume International Airport (AAKIA) calling it a historic event.

The commissioning of Dnata, a new ground handler with exclusive rights to Terminal 3 building comes at a time when the existing ground handlers are considering laying off staff.

Speaking at the ceremony Mwinyi said the coming of Dnata was timely because it is set to enhance service delivery of international standards at Zanzibar’s only international airport which registered 1.8 million arrivals is 2022.

“Despite the investments made at different times by the past administration, service delivery remained a challenge at the AAKIA. These included, supervision, lack of professionalism and lack of modern equipment to serve passengers and their cargo,” said President Mwinyi.

President Mwinyi cuts the ribbon to commission Dnata's operations at the AAKIA

He added: This was a major discouragement to visitors and natives who used the airport, in the process leading to loss of government revenue.

He said that it was due these factors that the government entered into negotiations with Dnata, Emirates Leisure Retail, MMI Wine and Spirits and Segap in order to deliver services that suit the kind of investment that they had made.

The newly built Terminal 3 building at the airport was constructed at a cost of $120 million.

“The collaboration has been very instrumental in improving services at the airport with 34 international flights plying the Zanzibar route whereas arrivals have also gone up by almost 38 percent, from 1.3 million in 2021 to 1.8 million in 2022,” said Mwinyi.

According to Dr Mwinyi recent increase in revenue collection is also attributed to the improvements of service delivery at the airport.

The airport is said to have recorded Sh6.7 billion in the first quarter of the current fiscal year and amount which was further improved with collections of Sh 8.1 billion in the second quarter of the 2022 -23 financial year.

“This revenue is up from the Sh2.1 billion which was collected in the pre-Covid days and Dnata now employs 600 people,” said the President.

Ground handlers ponder retrenchment

However, as the president and speakers before him showered praise over the Zanzibar Airports authority’s (ZAA) preferred ground handlers Dnata Zanzibar, sources privy to ZAT and Transworld have confirmed that the two companies are pondering reduction of their current workforce.

They say that the recent order by the ZAA for airlines to either sign with dnata or leave the new Terminal 3 building has left them with very little choice.

“ We have been left with no choice, our hand has been pushed, especially when you look at the circumstances that airlines were forced to terminate contracts with our in favour of Dnata,” said a source close to the two ground handlers.

The new Terminal 3 building at the AAKIA

He added: We understand how this is likely to affect them and their families so we have decided that it will be a gradual process

The two ground handlers currently employ close to 500 employees in different capacities.

In a communication that The Citizen has independently verified, one international airline’s executive confessed that they had been forced against their wish.

With the terminations taking effect after a recent reminder that followed the September 14 notice, ZAT is left with two international airlines (Oman Air and Ethiopian Airlines) whereas Transworld has KLM and Air France on its books.

The four airlines have refused to sign with ZAA’s preferred ground handler and are ready to continue being served by ZAT and Transworld.

Las week, Transworld Aviation Limited filed a petition at the High Court of Tanzania, challenging the exclusive rights granted to Dnata which they say is contrary to the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority laws.

In July, 2022, President Hussein Mwinyi defended the decision to award Dubai National Air Travel Agency (Dnata) a contract to operate ground handling services at the Abeid Amani Karume International Airport Terminal 3, saying that all the due processes were followed.

In November 2021, Dnata signed a contract with authorities in Zanzibar to provide ground handling services at newly built Terminal 3 at the Abeid Amani Kurume International Airport.

As part of the contract, two other Emirates’ subsidiaries, Emirates Leisure Retail and MMI will operate all 13 retailers and two lounges in the terminal. The retailers include restaurant, duty free and commercial outlets.