Somaliland, Somalia to begin airspace control negotiations in Ethiopia

HARGEISA – The Government of the Republic of Somaliland and the Government of the Federal Republic of Somalia are set to begin talks regarding the future of the airspace control of both countries, Somaliland’s Minister of Aviation announced on Wednesday.

Aviation Minister, Farhan Adan Haybe, held a press conference outside Egal International Airport before departing to Ethiopia on Wednesday, to announce the purpose of his trip and the beginning of formal airspace control negotiations between the two countries.

“A large delegation from the Aviation Ministry is headed to Ethiopia to begin formal talks with ministers from Somalia about the future of Somalia & Somaliland’s airspace,” Haybe announced.

“We are hopeful that these talks we will bring Somaliland and Somalia’s airspace back into the hands of the Somali people, and that it will be jointly managed,” Haybe said.

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“If we can’t find a united solution, each government will make their own decisions on this issue,” Haybe added.

The UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has been managing Somalia and Somaliland’s airspace for over the past two decades, following the collapse of the Somali state in the early 90’s.

ICAO is expected to transfer their control over Somalia and Somaliland airspace in 2018, but has yet to announce which country will take control over the airspace. Several media outlets have been reporting over the past few months that the airspace could be transferred to either India or the Seychelles.

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ICAO is reportedly reluctant on transferring control of the airspace to Somalia, due to their ongoing dispute with Somaliland. Although both countries have been separated for more than 27 years, Somalia still hasn’t recognized Somaliland’s independence and currently claims Somaliland as one of their ‘federal member states’.

Both countries have held prior discussions on joint airspace control during the Turkish-led Somaliland & Somalia talks, but have failed to come up with a lasting solution.

Last month, Haybe warned ICAO that Somaliland could control their airspace ‘by force’ if Somaliland’s airspace is transferred to the Government of Somalia in 2018.

This is a developing story. Please check back at The National for more.

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