DAR ES SALAAM, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- An aircraft owned by Tanzania's state-run airline was being held in Johannesburg by a South African court, a senior official said on Friday night.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication Leonard Chamuriho said in a statement that the aircraft belonging to Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) was being held by orders from the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg.
The aircraft which was on scheduled commercial flight between Dar es Salaam and Johannesburg was being held at O.R. International Airport in Johannesburg, said the statement without giving reasons for the holding of the plane.
"According to reports that the government has received from our ambassador in South Africa, the aircraft is being held following an order by the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg," said the statement.
The statement added that the government through the Attorney General was making a follow up on the issue so that the plane was released immediately and proceeds with its flights.
"The Minister for Works, Transport and Communication apologizes to passengers who were scheduled to fly from Johannesburg to Dar es Salaam for the inconvenience that has occurred," said the statement.
ATCL launched its maiden flight to South Africa's business capital Johannesburg in June, this year, a move that was described by officials of the airline as aimed at bolstering relations between the two countries.
Deputy Minister for Works, Transport and Communications Elias Kwandikwa said the South African route was vital for strengthening relations between two countries.
Kwandikwa said the new route will help in reducing time that was spent by passengers who were forced to connect through either Ethiopia or Kenya.
Emmanuel Koroso, the Chairman of ATCL Board of Directors, said South Africa was a very important market, especially in the tourism sector.
President John Magufuli prioritized investment in Air Tanzania when he took office in 2015, vowing to revive the loss-making carrier because of the potential to boost the vital tourism sector, a top foreign exchange earner.
Magufuli has since then bought eight brand new planes for the national airline, with six of them already delivered.
The airline had only one plane before Magufuli embarked on the investment drive in 2016.