Air Tanzania is a fascinating little airline. Up until a bit over a year ago they had a single regional jet and four turboprops. They’re currently in the process of expanding their fleet to 13 planes, as they took delivery of two 787-8s, two A220-300s (with a further two on order), and two De Havilland Dash 8-400s.
Well, the airline was just supposed to take delivery of their next Dash 8-400. These planes are manufactured in Canada, though the airplane was seized as the airline was planning on taking delivery of it, prior to flying it to Tanzania.
The reason? A Namibian-born farmer has a 33 million USD compensation claim against Tanzania, and since the airline is owned by the government, that seems to be sufficient grounds on which to seize the plane.
This is actually the second time in recent months this has happened. In August I wrote about how an Air Tanzania Airbus A220-300 was impounded at Johannesburg OR Tambo Airport. That plane ended up being on the ground in Johannesburg from August 23 until September 4, 2019.
As Tanzania’s Foreign Minister, Palamagamba Kabudi, describes the situation:
“The same person who went to court in South Africa, and caused the impounding of Airbus in August, went to a Canadian court. We won in a case with this man in South Africa.
I wonder why this person has emerged in Canada – but our lawyers are getting ready.
I summoned the Canadian ambassador to Tanzania and clearly told him that Tanzania is not happy – and we are actually angry.”
Apparently this all dates back to the 1980s, as Tanzania’s government nationalized a privately-owned bean and seed farm. The owner was awarded 33 million USD in compensation in the 1990s, but the government only paid 20 million USD.
That 13 million USD balance has accrued interest over the years, and is apparently now up to 33 million USD. The farmer has been fighting to get that money, and this is the latest attempt to do so.
It will be interesting to see what Canadian courts decide, and how soon this plane is released to Air Tanzania.
(Tip of the hat to TravelinWilly)