Kenya opens airspace for Somalia-bound planes weeks after shutdown


NAIROBI, Kenya - After several weeks of the shutdown, Kenya has finally opened airspace for Somalia-bound planes, in a move that could help cut expenses for several passengers who use the route, which is often busy most of the time.

For weeks, passengers flying from Nairobi to Mogadishu and vice versa, have been using Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as the connection route, forcing them to dig deep into their pockets. A number of them had waged complaints.

In a letter dispatched by Kenya's Foreign Affairs Ministry, Nairobi said it was opening the airspace due to "mutual" ties with Mogadishu, adding that it's keen to ensure bilateral ties are fully restored for the sake of peace.

Kenya further insisted that its relationship with Somalia is "intact", adding that most of the pending issues will be fixed. It further reiterated the traditional interrelationship with Somalia which has blossomed for several years.

The opening of the airspace comes at the time the two countries have struggled to normalize their relationship. Kenya shut doors for Somalia-bound planes last month days after Qatar helped to restore the relationship between the two nations.

Although no clear reason was given, it's believed that Kenya retaliated over Somalia's failure to lift a ban on Khat. Somalia is a major exporter of Miraa and the suspension has hit hard most farmers from Kenya who depends on it as a source of income.

Interestingly, the lifting of the ban comes hours after Somalia's information minister Osman Abukar Dubbe said Mogadishu will not tolerate incidents of Kenya Defense Forces launching airstrikes in Jubaland without consultation. This is after an alleged KDF airstrike killed a mother and her child in Gedo.

Throughout the ban, only humanitarian and medivac flights were allowed to fly to Somalia but had tough restrictions. Last week, Kenya threatened to ban them after it emerged that they were flouting various regulations.

All passengers now using the route will be required to undergo a thorough test for Covid-19, the dispatch noted. In compliance with this, it added, they will have to show a Covid-19 free certificate upon arrival or departure.


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