Flying into Somalia

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The country’s aviation industry takes off as major airlines land to set base
In the recent months, a fresh phenomenon has been going on in Somalia. Airline companies have been flying in to set up branches and mark their paths on the skies of a country that for the past two decades, has been looked at as dangerous and inaccessible.

At Adden Abdulle International Airport, the runway is always busy, with planes taking off and landing every 20 minutes or so.

The airport, lying by the Indian Ocean, is bustling — the planes taxing away after passengers have disembarked, the security people shouting as they guide passengers into the airport checking in and arrival stations, and the customs and immigration officials goind about their business with smiles despite the sweltering heat.

Within the airport, there are all kinds of airplanes: UN branded helicopters, small commercial planes and slightly larger commercial aircraft. In a country where roads are still not well developed, it is almost ironical that the most expensive form of travel is doing well. This fact can be attributed to security concerns that have plagued the country over the years.

According to the Somalia Civil Aviation Authority, Somalia has 15 airports. Most of these have not been functioning in the past 20 years. In fact, most of them, after the civil war, were run down runways. As of 2011 though, the number of licensed local firms had increased. A number of international airline companies, led by the Turkish Airlines set shop in the country. Their numbers have continued to rise.

The demand for airline services, promoted by growing number of the Diaspora community returning back home, in addition to increased international trade, has led to reconstruction of airports, and more so the extension of runways to accommodate bigger planes.

By August of 2013, there were over 35 flights daily. This number has gone up so much that currently, it is approximated that the Aden Abdulle International Airport handles 133 domestic and 91 international flights per week. Currently, Turkish Airlines, Air Uganda, East African Airlines, Jubba Express, , African Express, Daallo Airlines, Fly 540, Horn of Africa Airline, Osob Airlines, Mudan Airlines and Air Somalia are plying the skies of Somalia. Some of the airlines that have resumed flights have regular trips within Somalia and regionally.

Others are inconsistent and only fly once in a while. At Aden Abdulle International Airport, the quality of service is nearly as good as that in any other airport. Aside from the heat and salty air and shouting security officials, the whole process is smooth. The air space is clean and the ground is safe. There have been no serious security incidents reported at the airport since normalcy returned in Mogadishu.

In an article on August 26th, 2013 by Daisy Carrington published in the CNN website, major airline carriers like Turkish Airlines, flying to Somalia is part of a larger strategy to have a bigger share of the African airline industry as a whole. The airline launched 15 new destinations within the continent in 2012. The article by Daisy Carrington goes on to quote Turkish Airlines’ senior vice president of media relations Ali Genc, on such plans. “The most important geographic part of the world over the next 100 years will be Africa.

In this respect, any destination (we fly to) in Africa will create more effective results than, say, a destination in Europe.” As Somalia gets more and more stable, and as investors and business people troop in to conduct their business in Somalia, the future of the aviation industry in the country is set to get bigger and better. The aviation industry is seen as an import part of a rising Somalia and a critical trigger to international trade and economic development.