By: Yusuf M Hasan
BERBERA (Somalilandsun) – An Air-bus plane has for the first time landed at the Berbera international airport.
The air-bus owned by Juba airlines entered the annals of the country’s history during its maiden flight by becoming the first ever aircraft of its size to land in any airport in Somaliland.
The historic landing was witnessed by a large number of jubilant Somalilanders among them the minister of Aviation Hon Mahmoud Hashi Abdi, senior officers from the ministry, Sahil regional officials, Berbera municipality leaders and airport management as well as representatives of Juba airways.
According to the director of the flights department in the ministry of aviation Mr. Sigiiro, the plane that is now registered as a regular user of Somaliland’s airspace will be making its landings at Berbera international airport due to the size of its long runway.
The director thanked airport staff for their diligence in coping with the increasing number of planes using the airport. He attributed the work log to the deviations made on all crafts that used to land at Egal international airport in Hargeisa due to ongoing construction of a new runaway and other facilities.
Mr. Sigiiro said that the construction works at Egal international will be finished soon, since the international contractor from china has already started work following the arrival of awaited machinery from Hong Kong.
While the runaway at Berbera airport which was constructed by the Russians is said to be among the ten longest in Africa has never accommodated such a big airplane before, the juba airlines craft’s successful landing might be a stimulus for Ethiopian airlines to follow suit instead of the Fokker planes it utilized before.
Ethiopian airlines which terminated its services to Somaliland are set to resume flights to Somaliland mid this month with Berbera acting as the first landing base. Ethiopian withdrew its services following an Al-shabaab attack at its Hargeisa offices in 2009. The terrorist also attacked the Somaliland presidency and UNDP offices.
The imminent return of Ethiopian airlines is said to emanate from fears of losing to Turkish airlines which announced recently that it will start plying the Somaliland route using its big carriers of the air-bus caliber.
On the other hand, the two international airports of Berbera and Egal in Hargeisa have seen major developments funded by both the government and external donors. The improvements realized include security cameras, installation of modern baggage and body check machines etc. the ongoing construction at Egal airport is funded by the government of Kuwait in a $10m grant that will also cover Berbera and other regional airports.