Dubai aviation firm lands Somalia airport deal

Airport operations in Mogadishu in troubled Somalia are to be run by a Dubai-based aviation firm which specialises in 'doing difficult jobs in difficult places'.

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A Dubai-based aviation firm specialising in working at the world's hot spots has signed an agreement with the Somali government to run airport operations in Mogadishu.

SKA Air and Logistics, whose tagline is "doing difficult jobs in difficult places", has signed an agreement with the transitional government of Somalia to bring the airport into compliance with international standards, said a Dubai-based company official, who declined to give his name because he wasn't authorised to speak with the media. "We will be putting a lot of manpower and equipment in place in next few weeks," he said.

SKA has operations at airports throughout Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. The company's promotional video proclaims SKA "specialises in working in the world's hot spots, war zones and troubled areas where few others could manage such complex and difficult projects." The company is based at the Dubai Airport Free Zone.

Several SKA staff members are already present at Mogadishu airport where they have started training Somali personnel. The airport is currently constrained to a "sunrise to sunset" operation but SKA plans to improve efficiency when new features are added such as runway lighting, the official said.

The biggest operator that use Mogadishu airport currently are UN charters, Jubba Airways of Somalia, African Express Airways of Kenya, and Daallo Airlines of Djibouti.

When asked about the safety of basing company officials in Mogadishu, the SKA official said, "It is fair to say Mogadishu is still dangerous place, but safety has improved."