The Somali government this week said it was committed to reviving the national carrier, Somali Airlines, after more than two-decades of absences from the airs.
Mohammed Osman Ali “Dhagah-tur”, the general director of ministry of aviation and transport, told local media that plans to bring the white star carrier from scrap yards were already underway.
He said there was huge interest and market for the Somali Airlines to be salvaged as hundreds of thousands of Somalis are set to return back to the country from abroad after many years.
The Somali government and the Somali Civil Aviation Steering Committee have recently met with various aviation governing bodies including the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal.
During a two-day meeting in Montreal, the Somali Civil Aviation Steering Committee requested international assistance to rebuild the national civil aviation capacity over the next three years.
The committee also requested that all administration and management of the industry should be handed back to the Somali authorities instead of operating in Nairobi by foreign staff.
Following the collapse of the central government in Somalia, in 1996 UNDP and ICAO established the Civil Aviation Caretaker Authority for Somalia (CACAS) in the Kenyan capital. Many Somalis have since complained about the foreign establishment handling their airspace from foreign offices with many said to be enjoying high kickbacks.
A technical audit report in early this year found evidence of widespread corruption in the Nairobi office and that: “There are few very low paid Somali aviation personnel, who are working in the project, but are treated as second class associates. The Somalis are working on pupils visas in Kenya, and there are huge disparities and discrepancies in salaries, benefits and allowances when compared to the Kenyan staff members who are paid, three or four times higher than what the Somalis are getting, though some of them are having higher or equivalent qualifications of their non-Somali counterparts.”
The Somali Civil Aviation Steering Committee is comprised of the TFG, Puntland, Somaliland and members of CACAS, UNDP and ICAO/TCB.
The discussion in Montreal chaired by Ahmed Dalal Farah, the Director of Somaliland civil aviation, strongly emphasized the need to transfer all Somali aviation assets and operations from Nairobi to the hands of Somali authorities.
The transitional government, whose mandate expires in less than a month, is set to form its own committee to help rebuild the industry, draft new laws and to regulate aviation standards in Somalia.
Mr. Ali believes once Somalia restores its stability after years of civil unrest, many local and international carriers will channel in their flights to Africa’s most strategic nation. Furthermore, local analysts believe Somalia might become one of the biggest tourist markets due to its long coastline full of pristine beaches and historical sites.
Founded in 1964, the Somali Airlines ceased operations in 1991 following the outbreak of the civil war that ousted Dictator Mohamed Siad Bare. Before it collapsed it had a fleet of 10 aircraft.
Mr. Ali took the opportunity to announce new regulations from the Somali ministry of transport and aviation, which prohibits drivers from using unroadworthy vehicles on the public roads. He said new cars will be imported into the country and once they arrive, all civilians are required to replace cars deemed unroadworthy for public safety.