Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Landing and takeoff in Mogadishu’s International Airport

Flying is the preferred mode of transportation because of the country’s lack of infrastructure and stability. Only 2,000 kilometers of the more than 22,000 kilometers of roads are paved. Traveling by land is dangerous, not only because of the bad roads, but also because of highway robbery. Militias and bandits flagging travelers often interrupt traffic along the rugged roads. Flying is the best, the fastest and the safest option.

Airfare is unusually high. The operating costs of airlines servicing these routes are very high compared to similar sized aircraft operating in Europe. . It is because of the lack of infrastructure. Landing and takeoff on Mogadishu’s single-lane Aden Abdulle International Airport can be a terrifying experience. Flights are a little bit rougher compared to similar flight in other countries.  Russians or Ukrainians who are familiar with the outdated controls of old Russian planes mostly pilot domestic flights. Airlines are obliged to pay additional pay as an incentive to pilots and crews who are wary of flying in Somalia. They call the additional payment “combat pay.”

A typical domestic flight in Somalia has more passengers than available seats. Passengers who are not able to grab a seat stand on the aisle throughout the flight even if they have paid for a seat. Most of the seats are defective, and have no seat belts. Passengers have to hold on to the seat in front of them during landing and takeoff. Passengers hold their bags on their lap since there is no cabin for baggage.

Certainly, the entrepreneurial spirit of Jubba Airways and other air carriers, taking the risks to provide air transport, is commendable. There is hope that, with time, basic ground infrastructure will improve as those in the skies.

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