Dec 19, 2018: After a break of 12 years, Kenya Airways made a test flight to Mogadishu, Somalia on December 18, as part of routine preparations preceding the formal launch of the direct flight in January 2019.

The carrier has leased a 50-seater Embraer ERJ-145 jet from the regional Aircraft Leasing Services (ALS) that is expected to operate daily flights between Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi and Aden Adde International Airport, Mogadishu. The daily schedule is expected to offer connections to the rest of Africa and the USA.

Kenya Airways becomes the third international airline to fly the increasingly competitive Nairobi – Mogadishu route. Turkish Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines are already operating daily flights into Mogadishu, while Qatar Airlines recently announced plans to start scheduled flights to the Horn of Africa country.

Kenya Airways chief executive Sebastian Mikosz said, “Introducing more destination on the African continent is a major development and achievement as part of our strategy.”

Somali government authorities have attributed the growing interest in Somalia as a destination, to the improving aviation safety and the general security situation in the country that has boosted investor confidence and led to the return of Somalis from the diaspora.

Said Eliye, the director of operations and international relations at the Mogadishu airport divulged that with the rising confidence in the country’s security, more international airlines are in talks to launch flights to Mogadishu in the coming years. He said Qatar Airways and commercial carriers from Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Uganda have expressed interest in operating flights to Somalia.

“We are always striving to have a safe airport as well as good service and safety. With support from African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), the security has improved quite a lot. The airport authority in conjunction with AMISOM has partnered to ensure there is security and safety. That is our number one priority.”

The African Union Mission in Somalia supports the Somali security forces in securing key installations in Somalia, such as the international airport and has been instrumental in the return to relative peace and normalcy in the country, after more than two decades of civil strife and an insurgency that lasted almost a decade.

Kenya Airways has suspended its direct flights to Somalia in 2006 due to escalated terror threats and attacks by Al-shabaab.

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