Kenya has resumed flights to and from Somalia by reopening its airspace following closure in May this year.
According to Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this is a goodwill gesture made in the two countries’ mutual interest. Both countries plan to restore bilateral relations, including diplomatic, trade, and people-to-people ties that have undergone undue strain.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry said it has taken this action due to intercessions and has decided to reopen Kenya’s airspace to all flights originating from Somalia and from Kenya to Somalia.
Kenya maintains COVID-19 protocols
The Ministry, however, added that the COVID-19 protocols would remain in place for all passengers using the flights, as is the case in other countries.
Passengers shall be required to have a valid COVID-19 certificate conducted within 96 hours before travel, indicating that they are negative.
“All travelers below the age of 5 years will be exempted from COVID-19 negative PCR test to enter the country,” the Ministry added.
Flights from Nairobi to Mogadishu were suspended on May 11, just days after Somalia said diplomatic ties with its neighbour had been normalized following months of tension.
At the time, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) stated that all flights to Somalia commercial flights to and from Somalia would be suspended for three months without reason.
“All flights between both countries are suspended except medevac flights and United Nations flights on humanitarian missions only,” said KCAA in a statement.
Meanwhile, Somalia announced that bilateral ties with Kenya were restored, citing “the interests of good neighborliness” to motivate its decision.
Somalia had cut off diplomatic relations after Nairobi hosted the political leadership of Somaliland, a breakaway state not recognized by Somalia’s central government.
For a long time, Somalia remained uncomfortable with Nairobi’s “meddling” in regions over its border.
On the other hand, Mogadishu was accused of using this as an excuse for its political turmoil.
The two have also been in a tug of a territorial dispute over a stretch of the Indian Ocean claimed by both nations, which led them to seek international arbitration.