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Air Tanzania’s Impounded A220 Returns Home after 7 Months In The Netherlands

Air Tanzania

Air Tanzania’s Airbus A220-300, registered as 5H-TCH, has returned to Dar es Salaam after being impounded in the Netherlands for over seven months. The aircraft was seized in December 2022 following a dispute between the Tanzanian government and a Swedish energy company, EcoEnergy Limited. The company had won a $165 million lawsuit against the Tanzanian government over the Bagamoyo sugar project, leading to the impoundment of the aircraft.

Return of the Aircraft to Tanzania

The Tanzanian government confirmed on July 8 that the aircraft had been released and returned to the East African nation. According to Chief Government Spokesperson Gerson Msigwa, following a constructive discussion between the state and the Swedish firm, the single-aisle aircraft has been returned to Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL). The aircraft will undergo repairs before it can resume commercial service for the national carrier.

Air Tanzania
Image by: Michael Stappen via PLANESPOTTERS

Flight Details

On July 6, the aircraft began its return with a 13-minute flight around the Dutch City of Maastricht. On July 7, it took off from Maastricht Aachen Airport (MST) at 08:19 and flew to Cairo International Airport (CAI), landing at 13:31. After about an hour, it left Cairo and flew to Dar es Salaam Julius Nyerere Airport (DAR), where it arrived at 20:41. On July 10, 5H-TCH flew from Dar es Salaam to Kilimanjaro, but it is not fully clear if it was a scheduled revenue or test flight given the repairs needed.

Attachment of the Aircraft in the Netherlands

The ATCL aircraft was seized after EcoEnergy Limited won a $165 million lawsuit against the Tanzanian government over the Bagamoyo sugar project. The company had invested about $52 million to produce sugar and renewable energy, while other stakeholders were ready to invest over $400 million in the project. However, the state revoked the title deeds and challenged the project, claiming that the land belonged to Saadani National Park and that the claimant’s sugar can and ethanol project would adversely impact local wildlife.

EcoEnergy took the matter to court in the Netherlands, filed a breach of contract lawsuit, and claimed damages of up to $165 million against the Tanzanian government. The foreign firm obtained a court order to attach one of ATCL’s Airbus A220-330 aircraft after it landed in Holland.

Air Tanzania
Image by: Severin Hackenberger via PLANESPOTTERS

Aircraft Seizure: A Regular Occurrence

The seizure of Air Tanzania’s single-aisle aircraft in the Netherlands is not an isolated case. In April, Australian mining company Indiana Resources threatened to seize one of the airline’s aircraft to force the government to pay up to $100 million in compensation for the loss of a Nickel project. In another case in 2019, an Air Tanzania A220-300 was seized in Johannesburg, South Africa, following a dispute between the Tanzanian government and a retired farmer.

The return of Air Tanzania’s Airbus A220-300 after seven months of impoundment is a relief for the Tanzanian government and the national carrier. Despite the challenges, ATCL has been resilient and has continued to serve its customers. However, the recurring aircraft seizure incidents highlight the importance of resolving disputes amicably to avoid damaging the reputation of airlines and countries.

Do you think the Tanzanian government should have handled the Bagamoyo sugar project dispute differently to avoid the impoundment of the Air Tanzania A220-300 aircraft?

Also, you might be interested in reading: Qantas Finalises Order for Nine More Airbus A220-300s

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