Sunday, May 26, 2024

Kenya Airways resumes direct flights to Mogadishu

Kenya Airways (KQ) has announced the reintroduction of direct flights to Mogadishu, Somalia, marking a significant milestone in regional connectivity and development.

The airline will operate flights three times a week, emphasizing the advantages of nonstop travel, including reduced travel time and improved accessibility between Nairobi and Mogadishu.

Initially launched in December 2018, the flights to Mogadishu were suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, but thanks to the signing of a bilateral air services agreement between Kenya and Somalia in August 2023, direct flights have been reinstated.

KQ Group CEO Allan Kilavuka has however highlighted with concern the excessive scrutiny faced by passengers heading to and from Somalia, further calling for a more dignified security scrutiny to travellers from Somalia.

“We have a small problem with people who are transiting through this airport from Somalia, and that is causing a lot of angst among the Somalia people. So we’d like to ask that people who are travelling from Somalia be treated with a little more care, otherwise they have choices not to transit through here,” he told Citizen TV.

“They are businessmen going into different countries, and they will not be happy to be transiting through here, and we need to encourage as many of them as possible to fly through this hub.”

In addition to passenger services, KQ will deploy its recently acquired Boeing 737 Freighter to transport cargo.

The frequency of cargo flights is set to increase from a weekly flight to bi-weekly by April 2024.

This, even as the government promises to tackle issues of harassment at the airport by Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) officials, while still maintaining revenue generation through air travel, without inconveniencing passengers.

“Unfortunately, the sins of other actors within the KAA are actually attributed to us. And we cannot continue in the manner in which we are continuing in our relationship with the Kenya Revenue Authority and their customers passing through the airport,” Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen said.

“There are many people who feel that in your enthusiasm to raise more revenue in the country, they are inconvenienced. And I’m happy that we have had a conversation with you to make sure that we continue raising revenue in the country without inconveniencing passengers.”

To alleviate concerns regarding security at Aden Abdulle International Airport in Mogadishu, Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale has provided assurance to the nation that the airport is indeed safe.

“I want to assure the crew and the captains of this inaugural flight, that as a minister of defence, I have been to Mogadishu many times, not by Kenya Airways or by any other, but I have been there. It’s one of the most secure airports in all of Africa,” he said.

Despite its ongoing financial challenges, KQ has received a commitment from the government of sustained fiscal assistance.

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