Dar es Salaam — The government said yesterday that it will decide on the fate of Kenya Airways' (KQ) flights between Nairobi and its Tanzania destinations pending responses on the ongoing diplomatic discussions between the two countries.
A decision by Kenya to omit Tanzania on the list of countries whose flights would not see passengers quarantined for 14 days before being freed into Kenya, sparked a diplomatic row last week.
Tanzania, which had initially endorsed KQ flights into the country, decided to change its position on Friday last week in a retaliatory approach.
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.
Tanzanians believe that cases of Covid-19 have gone down to negligible levels.
The Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Works, Transport and Communications, Dr Leonard Chamuriho, told The Citizen yesterday that the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) had written to the Government of Kenya and that response to the letter would inform President John Magufuli's administration on the right decision to take.
However, he did not disclose the details of the letter. "This is a technical issue. The letter explains everything clearly [regarding Tanzania's concerns] and that nothing can be done until what is contained in the letter gets worked on," he said.
He noted that the letter highlighted the reciprocity nature of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (Basa) between the two countries.
A Basa is concluded between two contracting countries and liberalises commercial civil aviation services between those countries.
The Basa normally regulates frequency and capacity of air services between countries, pricing and other commercial aspects.
"We are still awaiting for their response. So far, there has been no communication," he said.
The TCAA said last week that KQ flights would remain banned "on a reciprocal basis."
"The Tanzanian government has decided to nullify its approval for KQ flights between Nairobi and Dar/Kilimanjaro/Zanzibar with effect from August 1, 2020 until further notice," TCAA director general Hamza Johari wrote."This letter also rescinds all previous arrangements that permit KQ flights into the United Republic of Tanzania."
There has been tit-for-tat actions on trade issues between the two countries for many years, but increased since the outbreak of the deadly Covid-19 pandemic. During the past few months, some lorry drivers have seen the going a tough time after they were denied entry into some countries within the region.