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Is Kenya trying to be a ‘Big boy’ of East Africa?

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Tanzania has suspended all Kenya Airways (KQ) flights effective January 22, citing a reciprocity dispute after Kenya refused a request for all-cargo flight operations by Air Tanzania Company Limited.

According to a statement released by Hamza Johari, the Director General of the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority, Tanzania cites Kenya’s refusal as a breach of Section 4 of the Memorandum of Understanding on Air Services between the two countries signed on November 24, 2016 in Nairobi.

This suspension will greatly impact Kenya Airways, which operates many flights per week to and from Tanzania, and thousands of people depend on KQ to travel between the two neighbouring countries.

“Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority, on behalf of the aeronautical authorities of the United Republic of Tanzania, has decided to rescind the approvals for Kenya Airways (KQ) to operate passenger flights between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam under Third and Fourth Freedom Traffic Rights with effect from January 22, 2023,” reads a statement released on Monday.

“This is to reciprocate the decision by the aeronautical authority of the Republic of Kenya to refuse the Tanzanian request for all-cargo flight operations by Air Tanzania Company Limited under Fifth Freedom Traffic Rights between Nairobi and third countries, contrary to Section 4 of the Memorandum of Understanding on Air Services between Tanzania and Kenya signed on November 24, 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya.”

Following this decision, the statement continues: There shall be no passenger flights by KQ between Nairobi and Dar from January 22, 2024.

“The Republic of Tanzania shall always strive to adhere to the principles of the Chicago Convention and Bilateral Air Services Agreement between states.”

 However, this comes at the time when Kenya is at loggerheads with another neighbouring country Uganda over fuel transportation from the sea port of Mombasa. The misunderstanding has resulted into a legal battle at the East African court of justice.

Last even in a rush to cool down the escalation of relations between Tanzania and Kenya, Kenya’s cabinet prime Secretary, Musalia Mudavadi said he had spoken with Tanzania’s Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Minister over the matter.

“I have this evening spoken to January Makambo MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania with regard to the decision of the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority to rescind the approvals of Kenya Airways to operate passenger flights between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam with effect from January 22, 2024. We have jointly agreed that our respective Civil Aviation Authority will work together to have the matter resolved amicably within the next three days. There should therefore, be no cause for alarm” Mudavadi wrote

The latest development by Nairobi to downplay on other sister countries ever since William Ruto took over the leadership undermines the principles of the regional integration. Is Ruto trying to play a big brother of the region by isolating others?

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