Zanzibar president backs Dubai firm in airport terminal row

By MOHAMED ISSA

Zanzibar’s President Hussein Ali Mwinyi has thrown his weight behind Dnata, a Dubai-based firm, in a row over ground handling services at Terminal 3 of Abeid Amani Karume International Airport.

President Mwinyi visited the terminal early this week to officiate the opening ceremony of duty-free shops during which he stressed that the Dubai firm has all the necessary qualities to serve at the facility.

“The government decided to enter into partnership talks with multinationals — Dnata, Emirates Leisure and SEGAP — with the aim of cooperating for the provision of quality services which are up to international standards. Dnata is providing the ground handling services and operates the in-house business lounge called Marhaba (at the Terminal),” President Mwinyi said.

He said so far, 34 international air transport companies are stopping at the airport and that the number of passengers rose from 1.3 million in 2021 to 1.8 million in 2022, which represents a 38 percent increase.

Rise in revenue

He said as a result, accrued government revenue jumped from Tsh2.8 billion ($1,194,323) during the third and fourth quarters of 2019 to reach 8.1 billion ($3,455,006) during the same period in t 2022.

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In another development, the archipelago’s Attorney-General Mwinyi Talib told The EastAfrican that he will be legally bound to respond if a notice is “duly served” should another Dubai Firm, Transworld Aviation Dubai, decide to go ahead with its “request for arbitration” at the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Court of Arbitration in Paris, France.

Mr Peter Madeleka of the Arusha-based Stalwart Law Chambers, who is the legal representative of Transworld Aviation in the arbitration case in Paris, said he will fly to the French capital in the next couple of days to make a follow up of the matter.

Madeleka is also the firm’s director for legal affairs and investment.

“We were already there for about seven years before the terminal came to existence and our contract does not state and restrict us to only work on other terminals,” said Mr Mohamed Majid, the general manager of Transworld Aviation.

Not yet vacated Terminal 3

He said they have not yet vacated Terminal 3 because the airlines they are serving including Kenya Airways, Air France and KLM have applied for an extension to continue working with his company and not to shift to Dnata.

The terminal in contention has been dedicated to international flights.

Madeleka said international airlines have threatened to terminate handling contracts with his firm due to the impasse.

On September 14, 2022, the Zanzibar Airports Authority (ZAA) issued a directive which gave Dnata the exclusive access to the contested terminal which was built at a cost of $120 million.

The order by ZAA gave ground handling firms that used to operate at the  Abeid Amani Karume International Airport until December 1, 2022 to vacate the terminal, instructing airlines to make arrangements to work with Dnata.

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