The most vocal leader among the Somaliland opposition, Faisal Ali Waraabe, leader of the justice and Welfare party – UCID, lambasted the government of President Musa Bihi abdi for sacrificing FlyDubai and the UAE for Ethiopia and the Ethiopian airlines.
Faisal, speaking at a graduation ceremony, Tuesday, said Somaliland leadership was neither able to attract new friends nor retain old and vast ones.
”The UAE was the first country that has defied all odds to invest half a billion US Dollars on Somaliland. It bucked all opposition far and near to stand by our side at a time of need. What has the government done? It unreasonably sacrificed its friendship and its flight carrier for Ethiopian,” he said.
Faisal recalled that FlyDubai was only allowed back into Somaliland airspace a little more than a month ago after an absence on government suspension of more than 18 months.
”The government has No right to limit a carrier’s flights on merit of seasonal ups or downs. That is for the carrier to decide. Airlines ply routes that they deem profitable. It is not for us to question how many passengers it has on board or that we decide for it whether a route is to its benefit or not,” he stated.
Faisal accused the government of unadulterated favoritism.
”It is clear that the government favors Ethiopian over FlyDubai for personal reasons, interest. Where the Emirates’ airline is denied 3 times a week flight, Ethiopian is awarded a weekly 14 flights at twice-a-day schedule,” the opposition leader.
”The aviation director tried to justify why the flight limitations his agency imposed. He only mentioned three carriers and totally skirted away from any reference to Ethiopian and its twice-a-day flights. The attempt only confirmed public suspicions relating to the rumored favoritism tendencies,” he added.
The government of Somaliland denied FlyDubai a renewal of its winter schedule based on a three-day flight that it wasn’t even happy with previously. Aviation told it that it was to cut down another day. It said it was based on expected low turn of passengers during winter.
Sources close to the Emirati airline disclosed that the carrier management was flabbergasted reading another indirect, unannounced suspension in the blatant interference of its schedule and the limitation based on untenable, unjustifiable pretext.
The lift of the earlier suspension was mediated, sources indicated, by the chairman and CEO of DP World, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, which the government reluctantly and with much fidgeting finally accepted in July this year. The carrier, however, has been on the air for a little over a month only before the government slammed this latest limitation on it.
FlyDubai will land its last ob Thursday, October 28 – exactly 3 months when it decided to resume the flights – although actually starting much later.
Neither of the two other carriers – one of which is Somaliland-owned – Daallo and AirArabia – have not yet publicly commented on their decision on the limitations imposed. Daallo, except for peak seasons, has been operating on a regular two-day-week schedule for recent years.
Hargeisa’s Egal International airport is one of the most idle in the region which made the government decision to limit flights of the few carriers that used it all the more baffling.