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Plans to launch direct flights to Hargesia, Somaliland on hold- Kenya Airways

NATIONAL
By Betty Njeru | May 12th 2021
Kenya Airways plane at Jomo Kenyatta Airport (JKIA), Nairobi. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Plans to launch direct flights to Hargeisa, Somaliland from Kenya’s capital Nairobi are on hold.

Kenya Airways (KQ) refuted claims on Wednesday that it would be operating the route three times a week, saying: “we currently do not have any flights in operation, contrary to information circulating on social media.”

It is the latest development in a stretched and frosty relationship between Kenya and the Horn of Africa nations, Somalia and Somaliland.

On Tuesday, May 11, Kenya banned all flights to and from Somalia with immediate effect, without reason, days after Qatar brokered a deal that saw Mogadishu and Nairobi restore their diplomatic relations.

The direct flight agreement between Nairobi and Hargeisa was reached in a deal between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Somaliland’s Muse Bihi last year in December.

Kenya had hosted Bihi who was in the country for a three-day State visit, a meeting that saw the resolve to launch operational flights in March this year and a consulate be set up in Hargeisa by the first quarter of 2021.

Until his (Bihi’s) highly publicised visit, Kenya did not have any diplomatic presence in Somaliland, unlike her neighbours Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Ministry in a statement said, “President Uhuru will be seeking stronger relations between the two countries to bolster security, economic and social interactions.”

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