Kenya began direct flights between Nairobi and the Somali capital, Mogadishu, after a suspension that lasted close to ten years over security concerns.
The inaugural passenger flight landed in Nairobi on Wednesday afternoon with 49 passengers on board.
Flights between Mogadishu and Nairobi were previously required to make a stopover in Kenya’s border town of Wajir for security screening, before being allowed to proceed to Nairobi.
The direct flight from Mogadishu is as a result of bilateral talks between Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somali counterpart, Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed “Farmaajo”.
Both countries expect the direct flights will enhance bilateral relations. Ali Mohammed Sheikh is the acting Somali Ambassador to Kenya.
“The removal of the Wajir airport screening signifies the strengthening of relationships between Kenya and Somalia.”
The new arrangement removes the need for a stopover for security screening in Wajir -a Kenyan town near the Somalia border.
Passengers on board the inaugural flight welcomed the move.
Flight time between the two capitals will be reduced by about an hour.
Pilot Reuben Gamero says:”We will maximise operations since we will not have sunset restrictions in Wajir, which will expand the window for connecting times, from operating perspective there will be less crew fatigue and less cycles for the engines and air frames.”
Heightened security at the Aden Abdulle airport in Mogadishu has resulted in increased passenger numbers between the Somali capital and domestic as well as international destinations.
– By Sarah Kimani