Mogadishu/Kampala - 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 passengers’.
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.