Kenya Airways Boeing 737-800 © Tis Meyer (PlanePics.org) Ending a month-long feud, Kenya has re-opened its airspace for flights to/from Somalia in what Uhuru Kenyatta’s government has termed a sign of goodwill to boost bilateral relations between the two countries.
“The Government of Kenya has taken due consideration of intercessions made and has decided to re-open Kenya’s airspace to all flights originating from Somalia and emanating from Kenya to Somalia,” Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
Somalia later welcomed the resumption of flights and reiterated its commitment to restore and accelerate diplomatic, trade, and people-to-people relations for the prosperity of both nations.
This followed after Kenya, on May 11, 2021, banned all commercial passenger and cargo flights from Somalia without giving an official reason. The move was widely regarded to relate to a long-standing row between the countries over the import from Kenya to Somalia of miraa/khat, a leafy green plant with psychoactive properties. Somalia’s Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) had announced that imports of the stimulant remained prohibited despite Somalia on May 6 having restored diplomatic ties with its neighbour following mediation by Qatar. Somalia in December 2020 had cut relations accusing Kenya of meddling in its internal affairs when supporting independent elections in secessionist Somaliland, internationally considered to be part of Somalia.
Kenya on June 14 said it would reopen its embassy in Somalia "as soon as possible", responding favourably to a call from its neighbour for the further normalisation of diplomatic relations.
Africa.news reported the Somali Minister of Foreign Affairs had sent a letter last weekend to his Kenyan counterpart inviting him to reopen the Kenyan diplomatic representation in Mogadishu, which has been closed since December.
Mogadishu also called for the formation of a joint committee to work out modalities on the full restoration of diplomatic relations with its southern neighbour, noting that the reopening of the airspace by Kenya was a starting point to commence negotiations aimed at the full normalisation of diplomatic relations.
As previously reported , airlines affected by the lifting of the flight ban between the countries included Kenya’s African Express Airways , Freedom Airline Express , and Jubba Airways (Kenya) , and Ocean Airlines (Somalia) ( Mogadishu ), as well as Kenyan cargo carriers Astral Aviation , Skyward Express , and Safe Air , according to the ch-aviation schedules module.