Tanzania protests aircraft impoundment


Tanzania summoned Canada’s envoy to protest after an aircraft set to be delivered to state-owned Air Tanzania was impounded in a land compensation dispute, the East African country’s government said.

The case relates to a lawsuit filed by a retired Tanzanian farmer who claimed compensation over what he says was expropriation of his land several decades ago.

Foreign affairs minister Palamagamba Kabudi said the new aircraft, a DHC Dash 8-400 turboprop, was impounded in Canada after an individual filed a claim against the Tanzanian government.

“I summoned Canada’s high commissioner yest and told her unequivocally the Tanzanian government is disappointed and angered by the move,” Tanzania’s foreign affairs minister Palamagamba Kabudi said at a swearing-in ceremony in Dodoma for new ambassadors.

The minister said Tanzania hired lawyers in Canada to defend against the action, noting it was from the same individual who filed a lawsuit in a South African court claiming compensation from government.

South African authorities in August impounded an Airbus 220-300 leased by Air Tanzania with a court later ordering release of the aircraft. The retired farmer’s lawyers in that action said he asked not to be named.

Under President John Magufuli, who took office in 2015, Tanzania spent millions purchasing at least nine new aircraft for the loss-making state carrier since 2016.

The airline’s existing fleet, leased from the state-run Tanzania Government Flight Agency (TGFA), includes two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners, two Airbus A220-300s and three DHC Dash 8-400s.

Air Tanzania previously had aircraft targeted in legal action. In 2017, Canadian construction firm Stirling Civil Engineering Ltd seized a new Q400 turboprop planes in Canada over a $38 million lawsuit, before it had been delivered.

The Q400 was released in March 2018 after Magufuli sent his prime minister and attorney general to Canada to negotiate.

No details were given at the time. Aviation sources said government reached a financial settlement to secure the aircraft.