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August 19, 2018

Freedom Airline free to fly after four months

Freedom Airline manager Shallow Abukar speaking to the press at the Garissa airstrip yesterday./STEPHEN ASTARIKO
Freedom Airline manager Shallow Abukar speaking to the press at the Garissa airstrip yesterday./STEPHEN ASTARIKO

Commercial flights to and from Garissa that were suspended in mid-January have resumed.

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority suspended Freedom Airline, citing security concerns and cracks on the runway, barely a week after it was launched.

This caused an uproar from Freedom Airline and some residents who termed the move ‘punitive’.

Yesterday, airline manager Shillow Abukar said all the issues raised by KAA and other stakeholders then had been resolved.

He spoke to the press at Garissa airstrip.

"That was a minor setback. We are now looking forward to doing business with not only the people of Garissa, but the entire Northeastern region," Abukar said.

The airline will operate one flight to and from Nairobi every Monday and Friday.

Abukar said they plan to increase the flights depending on demand.

He said the flights will open up commercial business and airlift patients who require treatment in Nairobi.

The journey from Nairobi to Garissa takes an ambulance more than eight hours by road. An aeroplane takes 45 minutes.

The airline charges Sh5,000 per passenger, while buses charge Sh1,200 from Nairobi to Garissa.

Northeastern regional commissioner Mohamud Saleh, who was on board the flight from Nairobi, said commercial flights to major towns is a sign that security has stabilised.

He said with more commercial flights, business will improve.

Saleh said there are four flights daily from Nairobi to Wajir and Mandera each, while in Elwak there are two.

"These are the fruits of improved security," he said.

 County Transport executive Abdi Omar said they will support commercial airlines willing to operate in the area by providing the necessary infrastructure.

He urged other airlines to venture into the region, saying this will promote healthy competition and services.

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