Greek Airline Begins Commercial Flights to Mogadishu From Europe

Greek carrier SkyGreece Airlines last week began commercial flights between various European cities and Mogadishu, two years after the first major commercial airline flew into the Somali capital.

SkyGreece Airlines | Photo: Internet

The airline’s maiden Mogadishu flight from Athens was the second international carrier to enter Somalia from outside East Africa since the country descended into war.

This is the latest sign of confidence in growing stability in the Horn of Africa country. Turkish Airlines launched the first major commercial flight into Somalia in more than 20 years in June 2012.

“It brought more than 200 Somalis from Stockholm on its inaugural flight,” said Somalia’s Information Minister Mustafa Duhulow. “SkyGreece Airlines will provide huge opportunities for Somalis in the diaspora to get direct flights to Somalia.”

Mr Duhulow said the initiative will support the recovery of the Somalia economy as well as link Europe and Somali flight schedules. “This clearly shows the progress being made towards peace and stability in Somalia,” he said.

While Turkey’s national carrier operates a twice-a-week passenger service from Istanbul, SkyGreece Airline will operate once a week from different European cities including London, Athens and Stockholm and hopes it will prove popular with Somalis around the world.

“We are expanding and new routes will be started in June 2014 from Stockholm Arlanda (ARN), Sweden and London Gatwick (LGW), United Kingdom to Asmara (ASM), Eritrea and Mogadishu (MGQ), Somalia operated by SkyGreece Airlines Boeing 767 – 300 ER,” said the airline in a press statement.

Regional Airlines Air Uganda and Kenya-based African Express fly into Somalia from neighbouring countries.

Somalia has been largely a security vacuum since the overthrow of Siad Barre in 1991. Peace and stability are however gradually returning to the capital after the insurgent group Al Shabaab were forced out of the capital by the African Union troops in 2012.

Uganda, Kenya and Burundi have contributed troops to the Africa Peace Keeping Mission in Somalia to help in pacifying the country.

The relative peace has seen the government launch several infrastructure developments. Last week, the government launched the construction of a new airport in Dolow district, Gedo region.

The construction of the airport will hugely help the movement of Somalis inside the country. The new airport will also help the recovery of the Somali economy and create jobs for local people.

Last year, the Somalia school for Aviation re-opened after more than 20 years. The school now offers up to 12 courses including aeronautical, aviation security, and air traffic control courses.

Unlike before 2012, where passengers landing at the Aden Abdulle International Airport in Mogadishu were handed a photocopied, barely readable piece of paper that asked for name, address and calibre of weapons, now visitors fill in bright yellow immigration cards that have no mention of weapons but include reason for visits including tourism.

Mogadishu, which had been reduced to rubble during the two-decade war, is now bustling with several construction activity. New hospitals, shops, hotels and even a sports bar are being built.

Somalis in the diaspora are returning home in large numbers. Local aid agencies estimate that 300,000 Somalis have returned home in the past year and many are participating in rebuilding their bullet-riddled homes.

An economic boom, fed by injections of millions of dollars, mostly sent or being invested by Somali overseas, is also spawning thousands of jobs.

While announcing the construction of the new airport, the information minister also spoke of the start of a new clean water and toilet project.

– The East African