The sky over Somalia will become active after a 30-year hiatus following ICAO’s reclassification of airspace over the country and the surrounding region to Class A. Air traffic control services went live over Somalia at one minute past midnight on the dawn of January 26.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which said the development would lead to significant improvements in safety and efficiency, the Mogadishu Flight Information Region (FIR), is important because some of the region’s “busiest airways – linking the African subcontinent south of Ethiopia with the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent as well as Western Europe with the Indian subcontinent and Indian Ocean islands – traverse Somalian airspace.”
The Mogadishu FIR covers the landmass surrounding the Horn of Africa and extends into the Indian Ocean.
“The reclassification of the Mogadishu FIR as ‘Class A’ airspace will significantly improve safety in the region and enhance efficiency. This is thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Somalia Airspace Special Coordination Team, comprising the Somali CAA, IATA, the International Civil Aviation Organization, adjacent FIRs and airlines,” said IATA’s Regional Vice President for the Middle East and Africa, Kamil Al-Awadhi.
IATA says the uprating of Somalia’s airspace and the operational resumption of air traffic control in the Mogadishu FIR became possible following installing and commissioning of modern radio navigation and other technological infrastructure. Tests of the new ATC system started last May and have been deemed satisfactory by ICAO.
Until now, most flights steered clear of the Mogadishu FIR, with the few that continued using the corridor depending on the IATA In-flight Broadcast Procedure to announce their position, speed, altitude, and heading on a dedicated frequency.
“The upgrade of air traffic management and improved navigation and communication infrastructure will enhance situational awareness along an increasingly busy air corridor and its intersections with routes linking many of the world’s regions,” added Al-Awadhi.
Reclassification to Class A airspace means lateral and vertical separation between aircraft will henceforth be coordinated from a central source with a complete spatial picture. In the Mogadishu FIR, Class A airspace is the sky above the base altitude of approximately 24,500 feet above mean sea level.
Turkish, Qatar, Ethiopian, and Uganda Airlines are the only big carriers offering scheduled services to Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport.