It is built and equipped to meet international standards, here is the ocean-blue Mogadishu gateway to the world
BY TSI TEAM
The new Aden Adde International Airport that was launched in January by the President of Turkey Recep Erdogan, has finally opened its doors to travellers, giving first time visitors a glimpse of a new bold emerging Somalia.
The glittering terminal is one of the most important developments to occur in Somalia in the last two decades. It is seen as a major milestone for a country that is keen to emerge from a past characterised by conflict and destruction.
Constructed close to the ocean, the new terminal is modern and welcoming, a sharp contrast to the run-down old terminal. At the finger print sensitive door, which is opened by one of the Favori Company (the managing firm) security officers, a thorough physical check done by a local police officer is the first sign that you have entered the new terminal. The security check is conducted under the watchful lens of a CCTV camera; one of the many that are installed in and around the airport. Inside the terminal, the AC controlled cool air, the soft music playing from a dark speaker on the roof, the glass walls and cream paints, the steel seats and leather VIP seats, will immediately remind you that you have stepped into an international class airport terminal even before your eye rests on the restless screens that display the arriving and departing flights. The man given the daunting task of transforming the airport is Bora Isiner, the general manager of Favori, the company managing the facility. “I came here after working in different countries at different high level positions. I was the director of Turkish Airlines at some point, but when I heard that there was an opportunity here, I took it. Shuffling and signing papers is not the way I wanted to live my life. I thought of building- creatingsomething new here,” says the 53 year old father of two.
The terminal, built on 15,000 square meters for both local and international flights, and 1,000square meters for cargo flights, has space for coffee shops, ATMs, Bureau de Change, Gift Shops and other facilities found in modern airports. The airports now handles 10-15 flights daily.
“We just begun our operations, but I know that the number of daily flights will increase. In fact, we anticipate that in about 10 years, Mogadishu will need a new larger airport, situated on the outskirts of Mogadishu city,” notes Isiner, who manages the US$20 million investment. Bora is in-charge of 236 staff members, 206 of whom are Somalis.
Out of the flights that use the terminal, more than half are internal, while the rest are international flights. Isiner says any model and plane size can land or take off from the terminal. At the moment, the terminal runs from 6 am to 6 pm for security reasons. The general manager however says that the airport can run on a 24hr basis if he got the security clearance. Fiddling with a radio equipment on his desk, he says, “We have every facility in place and on the ready. The only two things that might need some work are the lighting system and the landing and navigation system. Otherwise, we are good to go.”
The contract that was signed between Favori and the Somali government gives them control and management of the airport for the next 15 years, with the possibility of a five year extension based on need. In terms of revenue sharing, Favori takes 55 per cent, while the government takes 45 per cent. The contract between Favori and the government covers only Aden Abdule, and not the others. However, the company is in talks with the government to see if it can get the rights to manage the other airports too.
The immediate concerns for Aden Adde International Airport is to expand the runway, improve the lighting system and build a Five Star hotel (construction is ongoing) within the airport.
Isiner’s worries are on two fronts: the situation surrounding cargo planes and the situation about insurance of planes operating in Somalia’s airspace. For cargo flights, he concedes that there is little activity, with only two airline companies offering cargo service with both operating twice a month.
Insurance on the other hand is a matter that he can do little about. This airspace is considered a risk by insurers. That makes insurance cover costs for airplanes using the Somali airspace very high due to the high risk factors.
Bora and his team are, however, undeterred by the challenges. He is keen to see the airport achieve international statues. For now, he is contented with the baby steps, taking in the successes and challenges.