Direct flights between Mogadishu and Nairobi resumed yesterday with the first commercial plane carrying 49 passengers from the Somali capital landing at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) shortly after 1.00 p.m.
The re-launch of direct flights between Nairobi and Mogadishu was agreed upon at bilateral talks between Kenya and Somalia that were led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed during his first State Visit to Kenya last week.
Cabinet Secretaries James Macharia (Transport) and Joseph Nkaissery (Interior) were at hand to receive the first flight, marking the resumption of direct flights from Mogadishu to Nairobi after close to 10 years suspension.
CS Macharia said the historic resumption of direct flights between the two cities signalled a revitalization of cooperation between the two neighbouring countries, brimming with optimism that it would also enhance trade.
“For us in the transport sector, we have always been working to boost Nairobi’s position as a regional aviation hub,” said the Transport Cabinet Secretary.
For the last 10 years, flights from Mogadishu were landing at Wajir airport for thorough screening and vetting of passengers before proceeding to Nairobi.
“With the opportunities available in the region and the improved security environment and stability following the recent election of President Mohamed, the resumption of direct flights could not have come at a better time,” said CS Macharia.
CS Macharia said before the re-launch of the direct flights, the Government security agencies formed a multiagency team which travelled to Mogadishu to assess the security situation of the airport.
This was followed by the setting up of robust security arrangements at Mogadishu airport to oversee the flight routes and departure procedures in order to ensure the safety of passengers travelling between the two countries.
The Transport CS added that the various United Nations agencies operating out of Nairobi expressed satisfaction with the security measures put in place and support the re-opening of the route.
The said UN agencies have been yearning for the resumption of direct flights in order to enhance their operations between Mogadishu and Nairobi.
On his part, CS Nkaissery said robust security measures have been put in place in Mogadishu airport to ensure the safety of aircrafts.
He said Kenya and the Somali Governments have put a team in Mogadishu to oversee the security of the airport.
“Here in Nairobi at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, we have taken the necessary steps to ensure that all aircrafts are fully inspected so that the status of our airport is not compromised,” said CS Nkaissery.
The Interior CS pointed out that the national security agencies have ensured that Mogadishu airport is fully secured and that all necessary measures are in place for smooth operations.
He expressed optimism that following the resumption of direct flights, many airlines will ply the Nairobi to Mogadishu.
Also present at the airport to receive the inaugural flight from Mogadishu was the acting Somalia Ambassador to Kenya Ali Mohamed Sheikh.