KQ resumes Nairobi-Mogadishu flights after a four-year hiatus

Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen (centre) during the launch of direct KQ flights from Nairobi to Mogadishu at JKIA on February 15, 2024. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

National carrier Kenya Airways (KQ) has resumed flights to Somalia’s capital Mogadishu as Kenya aims to increase trade with its neighbour and East African Community (EAC) partner.

The resumption follows the temporary suspension in August 2020 to control the spread of coronavirus.

The phased flight resumption will resume with three weekly flights on Monday, Thursday and Saturday.

Transport Cabinet Secretary (CS) Kipchumba Murkomen, who was the chief guest at the relaunch, said by resuming the flights, KQ has laid the foundation for expansion of trade and people exchange. 

“The role of air transport in promoting people-to-people connection, driving peaceful co-existence and community prosperity cannot be stressed enough,” said the CS during the ceremony at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), on Thursday.

He said the country needs to take advantage of the flights to deepen sustainable development and inclusive growth.

Mr Murkomen also promised the speedy delivery of a new terminal at JKIA, saying the government is expecting the final report from its construction advisor today, which will inform the expected terminal to be put up at JKIA.

“We are in the final stages of advertising for a PPP (public-private partnerships) arrangement to build a new terminal,” he said. 

Kenya Airways said the resumption of Mogadishu flights is part of its network expansion strategy and commitment aimed at enhancing connectivity across Africa to contribute to long-term economic progress.

On February 1, 2024, the carrier had a meeting with the Eastleigh Business Community, Nairobi, to drum up support for the relaunch.

KQ Chief Executive Allan Kilavuka said Somalia is emerging as a favourite destination for business.

“The decision to resume flights to Mogadishu comes at a time when Somalia is emerging as an attractive business destination,” he said.

Mr Kilavuka said this attractiveness has been informed by improved security, and Somalia joining the EAC.

“Our mission of propelling Africa’s prosperity by connecting its people culture and markets is reflective of our commitment through this resumption.”

Diplomatic spat

Flights between Nairobi and Mogadishu have always been affected by the diplomatic spats between Kenya and Somalia. 

Before KQ cancelled the flights to Mogadishu in August 2020, due to Covid-19 pandemic, a dispute between the two countries over Indian Ocean territorial waters caused flights between Mogadishu and Nairobi to be suspended.

The two nations have a long-running maritime boundary dispute, which ended up at the International Court of Justice.

A diplomatic spat also erupted in 2021 when exporters of miraa, a major cash crop from Meru region, were denied entry into Somalia, which led to suspension of cargo flights.

However, with the admission of Somalia into the EAC last year, trade relations between the two countries are expected to improve.

“With the recent admission of Somalia to EAC, I applaud KQ for making this stride that will contribute in a big way to deepening integration of our community,” said Murkomen. 

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