Why Tanzania is not opening its airspace to AU pact signatories

29Nov 2019
Henry Mwangonde
The Guardian
Why Tanzania is not opening its airspace to AU pact signatories

THE government has not ratified African Union (AU) treaty on open skies that allows transit rights among member countries because it is protecting local operators including Air Tanzania Co. Ltd (ATCL), it was affirmed yesterday.

Minister for Works, Transport and Communication Isack Kamwelwe

Minister for Works, Transport and Communication Isack  Kamwelwe made the remarks when he launched the new ATCL board saying there has been a push for implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision from some countries with established air companies.

“For now our country has not allowed the use of the fifth freedom right, to protect the country’s flight infrastructure and is a deliberate move to let ATCL and other local operators grow and withstand competition even when we implement the treaty in the future,” he said.

The Yamoussoukro Decision was endorsed by 44 members of the African Union in 1999, and became binding in 2002, granting fifth freedom transit rights for its signatories.

It also sought to eliminate restrictions on ownership of airlines and frequency limits on international routes between signatory states. The practical implementation and application of its provisions however faced a number of setbacks and was not completed by all African Union members.

Minister Kamwelwe said the government has invested a lot of money into ATCL and tasked the board to come up with strategies that will help make the company move forward.

Recently, President John Magufuli appointed Emmanuel Koroso as ATCL board chairman for the second time and will serve for the next three years.

In his remarks, ATCL Managing Director Ladislaus Matindi said the company is now in the process to launch a carrier recognition exercise to identify customers who travel frequently with the airline so that they are rewarded.

Matindi said the system of recognizing customers is a worldwide practice and its framework is expected to be ready by February next year.

Two years ago the government embarked on revitalizing the national carrier which included purchasing six new aircraft from 2016 to 2018, payment of debts and provision of working capital for improvement and modernization of business.

The aircraft is part of Air Tanzania’s plan to grow its operations across Africa as well as to intercontinental destinations.

Air Tanzania was established as Air Tanzania Corporation (ATC) in September in 1977 after the collapse of the regional East African Airways. Since then, the airline had been operating at a loss and depending on government subsidies.