New Air Tanzania Q400 Impounded In Canada

Not a stranger to having its planes impounded, one of Air Tanzania’s new aircraft was seized by Canadian authorities this week. According to BNN-Bloomberg, the Bombardier Q400 was impounded because of a “land-compensation dispute” that dates all the way back to the 1980s.

Air Tanzania turboprop
Air Tanzania has had a plane seized before. Photo: Air Tanzania

Strangely, the seizure is because of a dispute between Tanzania and a South African farmer “seeking compensation for land he says was taken off him 40 years ago”. This is according to Tanzanian Foreign Affairs Minister Palamagamba Kabudi.

According to EuroNews, the plaintiff filed a claim in court against the Tanzanian government. Kabudi says that Tanzania hired Canadian lawyers to defend it against the action. Kabudi continued by saying:

“I summoned Canada’s high commissioner yesterday and told her unequivocally that the Tanzanian government has been disappointed and angered by the move…The person responsible for this is the same person who forced our plane to be seized in South Africa…We went to court and won the case.”

The Tanzanian A220 was seized in Johannesburg on August 23rd and released on September 4th. Photo: Air Tanzania

Not the first seizure of Air Tanzania’s aircraft

This would actually be the third seizure incident of an Air Tanzania aircraft.

You may recall that back in August, South African authorities impounded an Airbus 220-300 leased by Air Tanzania. According to One Mile at a Time, the aircraft was impounded due to a US$4.1million unpaid loan. However, a court later ordered the release of the aircraft. The retired farmer’s lawyers in that action said he had asked not to be named.

Further back, in 2017, Canadian construction firm Stirling Civil Engineering Ltd filed a court order to seize one of the airlines’ new Q400s in Canada before it could be delivered. The Canadian company’s claim stemmed from a ruling in 2010 that awarded Stirling $38 million for a road contract that was terminated.
New Air Tanzania Q400 Impounded In Canada
This latest incident makes for a total of three aircraft seizures for the airline. Photo: Air Tanzania

Tanzanian President John Magufuli has personally taken control of the state-owned airline, Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) and has spent millions of dollars on new aircraft. According to Airfleets, the airline’s fleet consists of two Airbus A220-300s, three DHC Dash 8-400s, and two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners.

More questions than answers

For us, this latest incident raises more questions than answers. The biggest question is “how can a South African farmer have an aircraft impounded/seized in Canada?” We wish we had the answer! Sadly, we don’t know enough about Canadian law and how it could be used by a foreign individual to stop the delivery of a multi-million dollar aircraft.

Do you think this is the last of Air Tanzania’s troubles in terms of aircraft seizure? Or is something bound to happen again for this East African airline?

We’ve contacted both Bombardier and Air Tanzania with requests for comment. However, at the time of publishing this article we have yet to receive a response from either party. We will update this article if any response is received.