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Air Tanzania says Xenophobic attacks block S. Africa flights

Friday September 20 2019

Air Tanzania

Two weeks after Air Tanzania Company Ltd announced that it had suspended flights to South Africa, the national carrier has continued to keep travellers in suspense on the resumption date. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

THE CITIZEN
By THE CITIZEN
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Dar es Salaam

Two weeks after Air Tanzania Company Ltd (ATCL) announced that it had suspended flights to South Africa, the national carrier has continued to keep travellers in suspense on the resumption date.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam Thursday, ATCL’s Managing Director Ladislaus Matindi said they will only resume flights to Johannesburg after the government is fully satisfied that xenophobic violence has ended totally.

Mr Matindi was speaking on the side-lines of a meeting where the Tanzania Government Flight Agency signed a purchase contract agreement with Airbus for two new Airbus A220-300 planes.

CONSULT AGENTS

He said at the moment they need to plan on the way forward by consulting with their agents in South Africa to understand the level of the problem.

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This comes in the wake of the national carrier’s decision to suspend its flights from the commercial capital Dar-es-Salaam to Johannesburg, a day after securing back its aircraft on September 5.

The decision was announced by Minister for works, Transport and Communication Isack Kamwelwe who said the violence there was a risk to passengers

VIOLENCE

Mr Kamwelwe said that they could not fly passengers into an area ridden with chaos and violence.

According to him, they were avoiding to transport passengers to the destination where their lives will be in jeopardy.

However ATCL said they are not in a position to make any decision yet until they are given assurance that the violence has ended totally.

According to Mr Matindi, they are currently consulting with their agents in South Africa to know the status and only then will they announce whether they will resume flights.

The decision to suspend flight due to violence came a day after a South African court dismissed an order by a lower court to seize an ATCL aircraft at the O.R. Tambo International Airport.

FOREIGNERS TARGETED

Air Tanzania was the only carrier to have suspended flights to South Africa due to xenophobic violence that targeted foreigners and their businesses in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

In efforts to mend relations with other African countries, South Africa’s former Minister for Energy Jeff Radebe, Ambassador Kingsley Mmabolo and Dr Khulu Mbatha, a veteran of the ruling African National Congress, party, are currently on a continental tour which will see them visit the Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.

The group of presidential special envoys will deliver a message of solidarity from South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa to the heads of states in a bid to assure them that South Africa is committed to addressing xenophobic attacks which erupted in the Gauteng province earlier this month.