Regional Airlines Merge as Somali Airspace Draws Competition

Daallo Airlines staff usher in passengers from Jeddah after their airline, Daallo Airlines operated by Air Mediterranee, arrived at the Aden Abdule International Airport in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, February 17, 2015. NAIROBI—

Regional carriers Daallo Airlines and Jubba Airways profited independently for years in one of the world’s toughest markets, competing on routes to war-torn Somalia that most avoided.

Yet as the guns fall silent, the rivals face a new battle that has pushed them to merge: competition from big international carriers such as Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines and flydubai, muscling into Somali airspace.

“The odds are against us, but that is the reason we are making a merger,” Mohamed Yassin, chief executive officer of Daallo, told Reuters. “We are not sitting back. We are trying to put our forces together … to face the new challenges.”

Hardy entrepreneurs running airlines, money transfer firms and mobile phone companies innovated and thrived in Somalia for more than two decades, keeping Somalis connected to the world as the state was torn apart by warlords and Islamist militants.

Now Mogadishu’s Western-backed federal government is slowly extending its control and imposing a semblance of political order, which is also changing the commercial landscape for firms such as Daallo […]

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