The Somaliland government has lifted its suspension of Emirati low-cost carrier flydubai (FZ, Dubai Int’l) following a bilateral agreement between their respective civil aviation authorities.
This was disclosed at a news conference recently by Somaliland Civil Aviation and Airports Authority (SCAAA) director Omar-Sayid Qalombi, reported the Som Tribune newspaper.
As previously reported, the Emirati low-cost carriers flydubai and Air Arabia (G9, Sharjah), in November 2020, found their route licenses to Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland (an unrecognised self-proclaimed territory in northern Somalia), withdrawn. This came after they had adhered to a Somali government ban on international flights imposed due to COVID-19. The Somaliland government demanded an apology from the two carriers and that they should come to an agreement with its own regulator, which appears to have now ensued.
Omar-Sayid Qalombi said the ban had been based on a decision by the Somaliland Ministerial Council dated October 17, 2020, that foreign state-owned carriers must have a license from the SCAAA based on a business entry agreement between both states. Such an agreement had been finalised, and state-owned flydubai could now resume flights to Hargeisa as soon as it was ready to do so, he said.
He said privately-owned airlines and charter companies could apply for licenses on the strength of their own merit, prevailing conditions, and market demand and did not require an agreement between states. Publicly-listed Air Arabia was expected to benefit from this new development.
“Once the airlines conform to requisite provisos, there is little else needed,” the director said.
Ethiopian Airlines (ET, Addis Ababa) had reportedly exploited the absence of the Emirati carriers by hiking its fares on the Hargeisa route, highlighting the need for more competition in the market. The Ethiopian state carrier serves Hargeisa daily and sometimes twice daily from Addis Ababa with a B737-800, the ch-aviation schedules module reveals.