Having tried to run its airspace on its own, Mogadishu is now seeking a joint arrangement with Hargeisa.
Since 5 October, the Somaliland minister for aviation and airports, Farhan Adan Haibe, and his Ogaden Somali counterpart, Salad Abdullahi Omar, have been in secret talks in Mogadishu in the hope of reaching an agreement to jointly manage their airspace. This initiative comes on the heels of the rejection by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) of the unilateral application to manage the airspace submitted by the Somali head of civil aviation, Yusuf Abdi Abdulle, an ally of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo from the Hawiye clan who has been running Mogadishu airport since 1991.
The ICAO suggested that Somalia develop a plan to manage the airspace jointly with the Somaliland authorities. In order to facilitate the negotiations, the two parties have called on the services of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, a private mediation organisation with offices in Geneva and Nairobi. It has already been agreed that the two ministers will submit a draft document on the joint management of Somali airspace to the ICAO in January 2018 which includes details of how the revenues will be divided.
Beyond purely economic considerations, this initiative has obvious political implications. If it should succeed, it could serve as a platform for the resumption of dialogue between Somaliland and Somalia, possibly in the course of next year. What’s more, this airspace co-management project has the backing of both the Somaliland president Ahmed Mohamed Mahamoud, known as Silanyo, and his Somali counterpart.