DAR ES SALAAM, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) will suspend scheduled flights to South Africa, a government minister said Thursday, citing security concerns.
The state-run airline is temporarily suspending the flights following xenophobic attacks in South Africa, Tanzanian Minister for Works, Transport and Communication Isack Kamwelwe said.
"We have temporarily suspended flights until when calm is restored because we wouldn't want to fly passengers to a destination where there are violent attacks on foreigners," the minister told a gathering at the Julius Nyerere International Airport in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.
The announcement came one day after the airline had secured one of aircraft that was seized in Johannesburg on orders from a South African court.
Kamwelwe said the suspension of Air Tanzania flights to South Africa has nothing to do with the seizure.
On Wednesday, a South African court ordered the release of the Airbus A220-300 plane it had impounded on Aug. 23.
The ATCL launched its maiden flight to South Africa's Johannesburg in June, a move that was described by airline officials as aimed at bolstering relations between the two countries.
Emmanuel Koroso, chairman of ATCL Board of Directors, said South Africa is 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 bought eight 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.