Why Somalia has air traffic control for the first time since the 1990s
Friday January 27, 2023

Source: By Ryan Erik King

The country’s airspace was deemed uncontrolled after the start of the Somali Civil War in 1991.

Turkish Airlines’ inaugural flight to Mogadishu in 2012 Photo: Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP (Getty Images)

Air traffic control is a critical element of commercial air travel. Every day, there are thousands of metal tubes flying through the air at over 500 miles per hour. These flights need to be managed closely so that each airliner can depart and arrive safely at its destination. It is difficult to imagine anywhere in the world without the ability to monitor its own airspace properly. Yet, Somalia hasn’t had that capability for the past 30 years. Until Thursday.

The International Air Transport Association, the global airline trade association, confirmed that Somalia’s airspace had been reclassified as Class A. Class A airspace starts at 18,000 feet and extends up to 60,000 feet, a space primarily intended for large passenger and cargo planes. Somali airspace lost this classification in 1991, primarily due to the start of the Somali Civil War.

The establishment of the current federal government and the declared end of the civil war in 2012 also meant the return of organized civil aviation to Somalia. Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu even hosted the swear-in ceremony for members of the new parliament. Turkish Airlines, the only international carrier serving Somalia, began flights to the airport that same year.

Somali airspace had Class G status starting in 1992, deeming the airspace as effectively uncontrolled. The area was managed from another country, a center in Nairobi, Kenya. The Somali government transferred the airspace’s management to Mogadishu in 2018, and significant navigation and communication infrastructure upgrades were made in 2022. According to Simple Flying, these improvements made reclassification possible.

Somalia sits at an important point on the global, sitting between Europe, West Africa, India and Southeast Asia. The same fact has given the UAE hub status with its flag carriers, Emirates and Etihad. Now, the country in the Horn of Africa can make connections to improve its standing in the global economy