Four years after Turkish Airlines became the first major international carrier to serve Somalia since the outbreak of civil war, hopes for a surge in connectivity have had mixed results.
Hargeisa has so far been the prime beneficiary of new passenger flights. Ethiopian Airlines resumed scheduled services to the Somaliland capital from Addis Ababa in 2012 and now operates the route twice daily. FlyDubai, the low-cost affiliate of Emirates Airlines, last year initiated a fourtimes weekly scheduled service to Hargeisa from Dubai. The route launches have been offset by the loss of scheduled flights to Somalia from Yemen and Uganda.
Today the Horn of Africa nation has regular passenger links with just seven countries: Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. That is a far cry from the heyday of Somalia’s civil aviation sector in the 1970s and 1980s, when flag-carrier Somali Airlines counted Rome and Frankfurt among it expansive route network. The past 12 months has seen a slight reduction in capacity on flights from Somalia, according to Flightglobal, an aviation data provider. A total of 57,000 scheduled seats were available in September, versus 59,000 during the same month in 2015.
Disappointingly, a rumoured link to Doha has also failed to materialise despite Qatar and Somalia pledging to deepen cooperation in the civil aviation sphere last year. Qatar Airways was expected to operate that service, but has instead boosted frequencies to Djibouti and Eritrea. The other two so-called Gulf super-connectors – Emirates Airline and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways – are not thought to be planning Somali route launches.