ENTEBBE/MOGADISHU – With improving peace and security as well as expanding business opportunities across the country, Somalia is witnessing an impressive growth of its aviation sector, which now attracts some of the world’s best known international airlines.
Turkish Airlines, Kenya Airways, Ethiopia Airlines, and Qatar Airlines operate regular flights into Mogadishu and on Thursday August 29, Uganda Airlines joined the list.
The national carrier of Uganda launched its direct flight from Entebbe International Airport to Mogadishu’s Aden Abdulle International Airport, joining the growing list of international and regional airlines that fly into Somalia.
When the inaugural Uganda Airlines flight touched down to a water salute at Aden Abdulle International Airport, it was welcomed led by Somali Federal Government officials, officers from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Uganda’s Ambassador to Somalia, members of the Somali and Ugandan business community, foreign diplomats and the press.
The airline’s Commercial Director, Jennifer Bamuturaki said they have started with four flights a week, but expect to increase these.
“We will be flying into Mogadishu four times a week, every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. We are expecting two more Bombardier planes in October this year. Once we have the aircraft delivered to our fleet, we will increase our flights to Mogadishu to six times a week,” said Bamuturaki.
Apart from Somalia, Uganda Airlines will also operate flights to Nairobi, Juba, Dar es Salaam, Bujumbura, Mombasa, and Kilimanjaro.
The Somali Minister of Education, Abdullahi Godah Barre, who was on hand to welcome the inaugural flight, noted that Uganda was a popular destination for Somalis seeking education opportunities and direct flights would further boost the ties between the two countries.
“Uganda comes after Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Turkey in attracting students from Somalia,” Minister Abdullahi said, adding that the presence of international airlines is testimony that Somalia is consolidating its peace and security, and is open for business.
The Director-General of Somalia Civil Aviation Authority, Ahmed Moalim Hassan said that licensing of international airlines to operate out of Somalia, would help reduce challenges that Somalis endure while traveling abroad, and also enhance regional integration.
The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Abdulkadir Ahmed Kheyr Abdi cited the previously lengthy transit hours that passengers travelling between Entebbe and Mogadishu had to endure, but now this would be a story of the past.
“We have many passengers who travel, but there were no direct flights and they had to suffer lengthy waiting times and other inconveniences. We are grateful that Uganda joins the international fleet that comes here and will positively impact on the travel experiences of the people of these two countries,” said Minister Abdulkadir.
After more than two decades of conflict, Somalia is on the path to recovery anchored on the effort and sacrifice of AMISOM, whose troops are fighting alongside Somali Security Forces to defeat terrorist groups and restore peace and security.
The expulsion of terrorists from Mogadishu and many other parts of Somalia by AMISOM and Somali Security Forces has boosted investor confidence, opened up business and economic opportunities, facilitated growth in the air and travel industry, seen the reopening of international agencies and foreign embassies and the return of the Somali diaspora who are keen to be part of a new trajectory for their country.