Kenya opens airspace for planes to Somalia weeks after shutdown
NAIROBI, Kenya – After several weeks of closure, Kenya has finally opened up airspace for planes bound for Somalia, which could help cut expenses for many passengers who use the often busy route most of the time.
For weeks, passengers flying from Nairobi to Mogadishu and back, used Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as a connecting route, forcing them to dip into their pockets. A number of them had lodged complaints.
In a letter sent by the Kenyan foreign ministry, Nairobi said it was opening up the airspace due to “mutual” relations with Mogadishu, adding that it was keen to ensure that bilateral relations were fully restored in the interests of peace.
Kenya further insisted that its relationship with Somalia was “intact”, adding that most outstanding issues would be resolved. He further reiterated the traditional interrelation with Somalia which has flourished for several years.
The opening of airspace comes as the two countries struggle to normalize their relations. Kenya shut down planes to Somalia last month after Qatar helped restore relations between the two countries.
Although no clear reason was given, Kenya is believed to have responded to Somalia’s failure to lift the ban on khat. Somalia is a major exporter of Miraa and the suspension has hit hard most of Kenya’s farmers who depend on it for their income.
Interestingly, the lifting of the ban comes hours after Somali Information Minister Osman Abukar Dubbe said Mogadishu would not tolerate incidents where the Kenya Defense Forces launch airstrikes in Jubaland without consultation. . It was after an alleged KDF airstrike killed a mother and child in Gedo.
Throughout the ban, only humanitarian and medical evacuation flights were allowed into Somalia, but were subject to strict restrictions. Kenya last week threatened to ban them after it emerged that they were flouting various regulations.
All passengers now using the route will need to undergo extensive testing for Covid-19, the dispatch noted. In accordance with this, he added, they will be required to present a certificate of absence from Covid-19 upon arrival or departure.