Saturday, 1 August 2015

Old rivals become brothers in arms

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Airspace over Somalia has been considered a no-go area by most foreign airlines for two decades, but progress on the security and political fronts is now prompting a surge in commercial flights.

Flydubai, the short-haul affiliate of Emirates Airline, became the latest international carrier to add Somalia to its network in March, when it launched a four-times weekly service to Hargeisa, the capital of the semi-autonomous republic of Somaliland. Ethiopian Airlines and Turkish Airlines launched services to Somaliland and Mogadishu respectively in 2012, gradually upping capacity with higher frequencies and larger planes as demand snowballed. Qatar Airways is among the major carriers now evaluating a route launch.

As a litmus test for Somalia’s economic prospects, improved connectivity can only be good news for the country and its citizens. Yet it could be a double-edged sword for local airlines that flourished by braving the skies when foreign operators were nowhere to be seen...