It is the passengers who suffer when the regulators fight


(Posted 21st March 2015)

Kenya Airways, together with other private airlines operating scheduled flights from Nairobi to Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar and Mwanza, were on Tuesday taken by surprise when the Tanzania CAA cut flights between the two countries by a staggering 60 percent and took Mwanza out as a designated entry point, leaving just three airport into which the remaining flights still permitted could operate.

The dispute stemmed from the fact that the Kenya CAA had for a prolonged period of time, in what cannot be described in any other way as an arrogant transgression and violation of East African aviation accords, refused to allow Fastjet landing rights into Kenya.

The immediate result was that many passengers already booked had to be rescheduled onto the remaining flights while new bookings became difficult to confirm in the absence of enough seats on the route.

Kenya Airways subsequently issued the following statement, with other scheduled airlines still pondering their fate apparently and until now remaining shtumm:

Start quote:

Kenya Airways wishes to notify its customers that it has reduced its frequencies to Dar-Es- Salaam from 42 to 14 per week and will now fly only twice daily to Dar–Es-Salaam from today March 19th March 2015.

This is as a result of a communication from the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority reducing flight frequencies of Kenyan carriers into Tanzania.

Kenya Airways operates 5 daily flights to Dar-Es-Salaam and one to Kilimanjaro and one to Zanzibar.

Noting that Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASA) are negotiated between governments, we are aware that the relevant Kenya Government agencies have reached out to their Tanzanian counterparts in a bid to resolve the issue.

Transport is a critical pillar in the integration of the East African Community. As such, expeditious resolution of the pending issues pertaining to the BASA is crucial in fast-tracking regional integration.

Kenya Airways remains committed to continue playing its role in promoting the growth of the regional economy and working with all stakeholders in achieving this goal.

We apologize to all our customers for the inconvenience caused during this period.

Sources close to the airline were loath to discuss the problem lest they would pour fuel in to the fire, but their off the record comments and sentiments were clear, a huge disappointment that air transport was being used as a political football, leaving hundreds of people stranded as not only were flights limited but also the aircraft type capped to the size of a Boeing B737-800NG version, taking out the option to operate wide bodied aircraft to at least make up for the lost seats.

The situation has already led to a shift in booking patterns from for instance Uganda, where many passengers used Kenya Airways enroute to Dar es Salaam, connecting in Nairobi. Fastjet, flying three times a week nonstop between Dar es Salaam and Entebbe appears to have captured additional traffic as has RwandAir which flies to Dar es Salaam via Kigali, but the relief may be shortlived considering the overall strong demand for travel from and via Nairobi to Tanzania’s commercial capital, to Kilimanjaro and to Zanzibar. It is from there in fact that tourism stakeholders have already raised the alarm with this correspondent that ahead of the Easter holidays they were expecting a large influx of Kenyan travelers as well as tourists connecting via Nairobi to Zanzibar. ‘If this is not sorted out we could lose a lot of business and we cannot even charge for cancellation or no show fees because if people cannot get a flight, they cannot come. During Sauti Za Busara all the flights from Nairobi into Zanzibar were completely full and we hoped for similar occupancies for Easter. The two authorities should sort this problem whatever it is out and not at our expense’.

All eyes are now on the two civil aviation bodies to see if a fast track solution can be found and a return to the pre 17th of March can be accomplished. For added information about flights operating from Nairobi to Dar es Salaam on Kenya Airways check or follow the airline’s Facebook page where regular updates are posted

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