Tuesday August 13, 2019
A file photo of Wajir International Airport. Kenya has suspended direct flights from Mogadishu to Nairobi and said planes will first land in Wajir for security checks. PHOTO | BRUHAN MAKONG | NATION MEDIA GROUP
MOGADISHU (HOL) - A decree in May by Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) suspending direct flights to Somalia lapsed last week but Nairobi has remained mute over the matter creating uncertainty for airlines in Mogadishu.
A senior official at the Somali Civil Aviation intimated to Hiiraan Online that there was no word yet from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) regarding the May 9 Notice to Airman (NOTAM) which directed all flights from Somalia to stop over in Wajir in Kenya’s northeast.
According to the NOTAM, flights from Somalia were to be rerouted to Wajir Airport for clearance before proceeding to Nairobi in effect reinstating the 2006 ban which came to an end early 2017 following talks between Presidents Mohamed Farmaajo and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta.
The suspension in May which KCAA argued was informed by security concerns lapsed August 9 but the lack of directions from Nairobi on the way forward meant airlines continued with the Wajir route. According to the NOTAM, airlines were no longer obliged to go through Wajir ‘unless there is another NOTAM stating otherwise’.
Somalia had protested the suspension terming it ‘politically motivated’. “The Federal Government of Somalia believes this action places undue burden on Somali citizens and other travellers,” a statement from the Transport Ministry in May read in part.
Relations between Somalia and Kenya have deteriorated over several months now hitting rock bottom in March when Nairobi sent home the Somali ambassador following controversies surrounding the Oil Conference in February which Kenya accused Somalia of presenting maps of disputed areas in the Indian Ocean border. Somalia said none of the maps in the contested areas were displayed during the conference in London.
Ahead of the expected ruling by the International Court of Justice on the maritime case from September, both countries have maintained low level contact as Nairobi lobbies for out of court settlement. Mogadishu has however maintained it won’t budge but wait for the global court’s verdict.