Thursday, March 7, 2013

► SOMALIA: Despite ongoing war, Somali domestic airline scene still booming.

As the Somali Federal Government slowly regains territory from the barbaric Al-Qaeda-affiliated savages in Al Shabaab, so life and business are beginning to show signs of revival. Unhampered by any meaningful government regulatory bodies, the country's airlines, too, have begun to exploit the demand for flights into cities such as Kismayo, Beledweyne and Baidoa, formerly no-go areas due to the ongoing civil war.

Kismayo Airport on liberation in 2012
Kismayo Airport on liberation in 2012 (AP)
After the Somali National Army (SNA), supported by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces, took the airport of Kismayo in September of last year, air traffic has begun to pick up, despite the dilapidated state of infrastructure at the airport.

In an interview with Iran's Press TV, Adbirahman Hirsi Dahir, the Managing Director of Somali domestic carrier, Central Air, said his airline had been doing good business flying to front line towns, charging as much as USD80 for one way flights.

After almost two decades of war and a lack of any functioning government or municipality, air travel has become the only viable, safe way to travel between cities in Somalia.

However, the general widespread anarchy that has reigned over the country in the last twenty years has had its positive side; entrepreneurial ventures, especially in the airline sector, have flourished. Unlike in numerous other African countries where overly protective government regulators seek to shield and discourage competition to often poorly run national carriers, since 1997, 14 Somali airlines operating 62 aircraft have started operations to various parts of the country, offering greater service to more diverse destinations than when Somalia had a sole national carrier, Somali Airlines (HH).

At present Jubba Airways (J5), Mudan Airways (MDN), Osab Air (OCB) and Central Air service local and regional routes, with Turkish Airlines (TK) being the only international carrier, operating to Mogadishu via Djibouti.