Direct flights between Nairobi, Kenya and Mogadishu, Somalia have been re-launched after close to a 10-year suspension with the first commercial plane with 49 passengers on board from the Somali capital landing at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
For the last ten years, flights from Mogadishu have been landing at Wajir Airport near the Kenya-Somalia border for thorough screening and vetting of passengers before proceeding to the Kenyan capital.
Direct flights resumed following bilateral talks between President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and newly-elected Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed during his first State Visit to Kenya recently.
Before the re-launch, a multi-security government agencies team from Kenya travelled to Mogadishu to assess the security situation at the airport.
Somalia has set up robust security arrangements at Mogadishu airport to oversee the direct Mogadishu-Nairobi route and departure procedures to ensure passenger security.
“For us in the transport sector, we have always been working to boost Nairobi’s position as a regional aviation hub,” said James Macharia, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary of Transport.
His counterpart in the Internal Security docket, Joseph Nkaissery said security has been heightened at the JKIA to ensure all aircrafts are fully inspected so as to not compromise the status of the airport.
The direct flights between the two cities are expected to enhance bilateral relations and boost trade between the two neighbouring countries.
United Nations agencies operating out of Nairobi have welcomed the re-opening of the route which eases their work logistics.