05 August, 2022

By Daniel N. Malanga.

Tanzania through the Ministry of Works and Transport, as an effort to recover from the Covid 19 Impacts, duo experts of Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASAs) negotiations, met in Cairo, Egypt on 26 and 27 July 2022, to review the current BASA between the Governments of the United Republic of Tanzania and the Arab Republic of Egypt to make it more modern. This showcase a commitment of the country not to be left behind the post-COVID direction of the world of aviation industry.

Mr. Hamza S. Johari, Director General of Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority, who was the Head of the Tanzanian delegation of the BASA negotiations during the closing session after the successful though tough discussions of experts, underscored that in today’s aviation system, cooperation between airlines in the course of providing air transport services is a powerful strategy for airlines’ survival. He thus urged Egypt Air and Air Tanzania who were invited in the negotiations as observers, to take advantage of the new bilateral framework which provides for cooperation in various ways.

Apart from the cooperation provision, other many areas were the subject matter in the discussions including the issue of Tanzania to allow a new Egyptian airline (Air Cairo) to operate between Egypt and Tanzania; The designated airlines of both sides are entitled to operate unlimited frequencies per week for passenger services without any restriction on the capacity and aircraft type. Previously, only 7 frequencies were allowed.

Other areas were, the airlines of both sides are entitled to operate three weekly All-Cargo flights instead of the previously agreed one, without any restriction on the capacity and aircraft type; The code-share arrangement was reviewed to allow for two or more designated airlines from the same country to code share and operate into the other country. The previous BASA had not mentioned this flexibility; and a designated airlines of either country is entitled to combine points in the territory of the other. In this respect, the Head of the Tanzanian delegation encouraged Egypt Air to combine Dar with Zanzibar in operating its flight from Cairo, but without exercising cabotage.

However, the negotiations were not easy when the two delegations of experts embarked into discussions on the request by the Egyptian Government to consider the exercise of unrestricted fifth freedom traffic rights in intermediate points and points beyond the agreed destinations.

Tanzania was tough despite the hot session that the negotiations room (the Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority House) was found itself to be in. The negotiations became Business to Business matter, every part putting the national business interest forward. Tanzania declined the request because it means a lot to the survival of Air Tanzania and other local operators, which are not as strong as the Egyptian airlines and therefore can not be put in the same environment of competition – if this is allowed, our local operators will definitely be affected, and this may lead into weakening them.

The Egyptian delegation’s request on fifth freedom traffic right was aimed at allowing Egypt Air access of the markets out of Dar to Nairobi, Harare, Moroni, Kinshasa, Lilongwe and Johannesburg, to start with. By exercising this strategic freedom of the air, the Egyptian delegation was requesting that Egypt Air operates from Cairo to Dar and drop passengers (third freedoms of air), carry passengers at Dar and drop them at destinations of other countries before carrying passengers out of Dar to Cairo (fourth freedom traffic right).

It is the expectation of the Government that airlines of both countries will take advantage of this beautiful bilateral arrangement especially the cooperative arrangement in operating scheduled air services of both passengers and cargo. The Government through Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority is duty-bound to facilitate smooth provision of commercial air services between these two sisterly countries both of which are members of the International Civil Aviation Organization”.

Now that the negotiations have been completed, the next stage is to sign the Memorandum of Understanding so that what has been agreed upon is reflected in the new BASA. When this is completed, the BASA will be signed by relevant authorities of the two countries and date of Entry into Force determined pursuant to the institutional internal procedures applicable by each country and the BASA itself.

This BASA negotiations event, happened only 30 days before which the experts met in Mayotte Islands to modernize the BASA between Tanzania and France. Review of BASA review at this time of the Recovery is paramount because the industry has been disturbed by severe by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation that calls for rethinking of some of its structures.

Rapid Recovery of air transport services from severe turbulences that it has faced in two years from early 2020 following the COVID-19 outbreak, is what the aviation industry is cherishing today. Just like any other part of the world, the aviation industry in Tanzania has been critically affected by the outbreak. The industry started to see the light at the end of the tunnel in mid-2021 when countries around the Universe were increasingly opening-up their respective airspaces and relaxing COVID-related measures including Lockdowns and Curfews. As we move ahead, we see the light increasing and indeed the Recovery of air transport is clear to the world, clear to Africa and equally clear to Tanzania.