Tanzania banned Kenya’s national airline from entering the country effective Saturday, in the latest move in a deepening row triggered by Tanzania’s controversial handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tanzania said Kenya Airways flights were being banned “on a reciprocal basis” after Kenya decided against including Tanzania in a list of countries whose passengers would be permitted to enter Kenya when commercial flights resumed on 1 August.
“Tanzania has noted … its exclusion in the list of countries whose people will be allowed to travel into Kenya,” Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority director-general Hamza Johari said in a letter sent to Kenya Airways on Friday.
“The Tanzanian government has decided to nullify its approval for Kenya Airways flights between Nairobi and Dar/Kilimanjaro/Zanzibar effective August 1, 2020 until further notice,” Johari wrote.
“This letter also rescinds all previous arrangements that permit KQ flights into the United Republic of Tanzania.”
Kenya Airways chief executive Allan Kilavuka said Saturday he was “saddened” by the letter and hoped the situation would soon be resolved.
Tanzania has taken a controversially relaxed approach to tackling the coronavirus pandemic and began reopening the country two months ago.
President John Magufuli’s refusal to impose lockdowns or social distancing measures, and to halt the release of figures on infections since late April, has made him a regional outlier and caused concern among Tanzania’s neighbours and the World Health Organization.
Magufuli declared Tanzania free of coronavirus in June, thanking God and the prayers of citizens for the disease’s defeat disease.
The diplomatic spat between Kenya and Tanzania erupted soon after the outbreak of the pandemic in East Africa, when Kenya blocked Tanzanian truck drivers from entering the country, fearing they would spread the disease.