Ending a month-long feud, Kenya has reopened its airspace for flights to / from Somalia in what Uhuru Kenyatta’s government has called a sign of goodwill to strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries .
“The government of Kenya has given due consideration to the intercessions made and has decided to reopen Kenya’s airspace to all flights from Somalia and from Kenya to Somalia,” the Kenyan foreign ministry said in a statement.
Somalia then welcomed the resumption of flights and reiterated its commitment to restore and accelerate diplomatic, trade and people-to-people relations for the prosperity of the two 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 seen as linked to a long-standing dispute between countries over Kenya’s importation to Somalia of miraa / khat, a leafy green plant with psychoactive properties. The Somali Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) had announced that imports of stimulant remained banned despite Somalia re-establishing diplomatic relations with its neighbor on May 6 following Qatar’s mediation. Somalia in December 2020 severed relations accusing Kenya of interfering in its internal affairs by supporting independent elections in secessionist Somaliland, internationally considered part of Somalia.
Kenya announced on June 14 that it would reopen its embassy in Somalia “as soon as possible”, responding positively to a call from its neighbor for further normalization of diplomatic relations.
Africa.news reported that the Somali foreign minister sent a letter last weekend to his Kenyan counterpart urging 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 for the full restoration of diplomatic relations with its southern neighbor, noting that Kenya’s reopening of airspace was a starting point for initiating negotiations. negotiations aimed at the complete normalization of diplomatic relations. .
As previously reported, airlines affected by the lifting of the inter-country flight ban included Kenyan carriers African Express Airways, Freedom Airline Express and Jubba Airways (Kenya) and Ocean Airlines (Somalia) (Mogadishu), as well as Kenyan freight carriers Astral Aviation, Skyward Express and Safe Air, according to the ch-aviation timetable module.