Air Uganda is set to start flights to Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, signaling yet another vote of confidence in the economic turnaround of the war-torn county.
“We are working with the United Nations, the Government in Mogadishu and our embassies to make sure that security arrangements are adequate. Already, some scheduled carriers have been flying to Mogadishu with no security challenges,” Cornwell Muleya, Air Uganda’s chief executive officer, said.
Muleya made the revelations on Sunday at Entebbe International Airport after the delivery of a third CRJ-200 aircraft to be added onto the airline’s fleet.
The aircraft was acquired on a five-year lease. Muleya, however, declined to reveal the financial terms of the arrangement.
Last year, Turkish airlines became the first commercial airline to land in Mogadishu in more than 20 years. The landmark flight came after African Union forces- the bulk of who are Ugandan troops – and government forces drove militia out of Mogadisu.
The militia however continue carrying out sporadic attacks on the city. Hitherto, the Mogadishu airport was controlled by rival militia. The newly appointed chief executive expressed optimism in the growth of Africa’s aviation industry.
“Aviation is growing fastest in Africa at a rate of 6% per annum. Whereas other regions have been seeing a slow down; we’re seeing growth in Africa for two reasons. First of all, there is a growing economy in terms of commodity markets and the impact of commodity prices, discovery of oil and other mineral deposits have fuelled the growth of a middle class that wants to travel,” he said.
The Mogadishu flights, which target the growing Somali business legion across the region and diaspora, will start in July. Air Uganda will also launch a flight service to Kilimanjaro later this month from its Entebbe hub.
By Billy Rwothungeyo, The New Vision