Passengers check in to board Air Uganda from Mogadishu. Photo by Martin Ssebuyira.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Travelling from Entebbe International Airport to Somalia has
been reduced from eight hours to two hours after Air Uganda started
direct flights from Entebbe to Mogadishu.
This makes Uganda’s premier airline the latest
carrier to invest in Somalia’s economic recovery, with the three weekly
flights it has announced on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Air Uganda’s managers say they’re targeting Somali
travellers, government officials, military personnel and entrepreneurs
from around the region who are keen on seeking opportunities in the
country, after two decades of war.
“The new flights provide a quicker and easier
solution for customers travelling to Mogadishu because they won’t make
any stops,” Ms Jennifer Musiime, Air Uganda’s head of sales and
marketing, said at the Aden Abdulle International Airport in Mogadishu
on Monday, adding: “The flights are targeting mainly the big Somalia
community in Uganda and government travel”.
People plying Mogadishu – Entebbe routes have been
using Kenya’s Africa Express Airlines and Safari Air Express (SAX)
Airline that drop them in Nairobi and they later connect to Entebbe,
using more than seven hours.
The planes first drop passengers at Wajira
military Airbase where they are thoroughly checked and later take them
to Nairobi for a second check before connecting to Entebbe.
Col. Abdullahi II Moge Hersi, the Somali Minister
of Information, Posts and Telecommunications, urged the Civil Aviation
Authority to beef up security that will attract more airlines to boost
Somalia’s trade with other countries.
He said the International Civil Aviation
Organization (ICAO) had removed the airport from the ‘Zone 5’ list of
airports ‘deemed to pose a security risk to aircraft, crew and
Uganda contingent spokesperson Major Hendry Obbo
said during Somalia’s conflict years, the only aircraft that braved its
airspace were hired by daring businessmen to bring in khat – a plant
grown in neighbouring Kenya and Ethiopia.