How Somalia-Kenya diplomatic tiff made life difficult air travelers to Mogadishu


MOGADISHU, Somalia - The suspension of flights by Kenya to Somalia has made life difficult for air travellers who connect Nairobi and Mogadishu, given the cost of air tickets to other routes, which is almost double the price of the original route.

Cost analysts say the money used from Nairobi to Mogadishu using other routes could be more than what people pay to and fro Instabul. When using Nairobi to Mogadishu via Addis Ababa, one part with $480 while from Instabul to Mogadishu is around $450.

All Mogadishu-bound flights from Nairobi have to go through Addis Ababa after Kenya banned direct flights. It's believed that Kenya took the initiative after it emerged that Somalia had failed to lift the ban on Miraa.

A direct flight from Mogadishu to Nairobi takes one and half hours while a similar one to Istanbul takes seven hours. While travelling from Mogadishu to Nairobi via Addis Ababa takes you around 12 hours according to passengers who experienced this ordeal.

Before the ban, one had to part with $450 from Nairobi to Mogadishu. The diplomatic tiff continues to wreak havoc among innocent citizens who make trips from and to the two countries for businesses and other reasons.

The ban has turned to be a boon for Ethiopian Airlines which is making a kill as travellers are left with no options. Travel, mainly by Somali nationals to and from Kenya is a daily phenomenon.

Deputy Manager at Salam Air Hashi Mohamed Salad, says the ban has had negative repercussions for those in the business, adding that most people have lost jobs due to diplomatic tiff between the two nations.

“Several workers in the aviation sector have lost jobs because the airlines are grounded,” Mr Hashi told HOL.

Besides the job losses, the aviation official said, the airlines have had to bear the brunt of paying for aircraft which are not in use.

“Most of the airlines' lease aircraft and they also have to pay parking fees yet they are not making any money.”

There is also the fear that even with the resumption of direct flights, ‘we may not get back some of these passengers’, Said Hashi. Related aviation sectors such as transporters have also had to contend with the rising operating costs.

Somalia had temporarily restored diplomatic relationship with Kenya following intervention by Qatar but the move didn't last long after Kenya hit back. Nairobi maintains that only humanitarian and medivac flights are allowed to fly to Somalia.

A fortnight ago, Kenya accused humanitarian and medivac flights of illegally clearing passengers, and subsequently, issued a warning to the same effect. The two countries have been having hot and cold relationships over the matter.


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