Tensions soared in the East African travel industry as Tanzania and Kenya engaged in a tit-for-tat battle over aviation rights.
Last week, Tanzania abruptly banned Kenya Airways from carrying passengers, a move that threw travel plans into disarray and bewildered tourists.
The reason? Tanzania sought leverage to secure reciprocal cargo privileges for their national carrier, Air Tanzania.
However, Kenya wouldn’t be strongarmed. They responded by immediately barring Air Tanzania’s cargo flights.
This prompted frantic activity as tour operators scrambled to reshuffle travel arrangements, further damaging both countries’ tourism reputations.
Finally, after days of uncertainty, a truce was reached. Tanzania reinstated passenger flights for Kenya Airways, while Kenya granted Tanzania’s cargo requests.
In this deal, Tanzania secured the “fifth freedom” right, allowing Air Tanzania to drop off and pick up cargo in Kenya on flights to other countries.
Additionally, Kenya Airways obtained the “third freedom” right, enabling them to carry passengers between Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.
While the immediate crisis subsided, it laid bare the fragile nature of regional cooperation in the face of economic competition.
The incident highlighted the complex web of aviation rights and how their manipulation can quickly disrupt regional tourism, a vital income source for both nations.