Kenyan logistics firms and exporters are counting losses following the closure of the heavily guarded main airport in Mogadishu Wednesday in a lockdown instigated by the Somalia presidential elections.
Siginon Group, which operates Siginon Aviation, said it had to cancel six flights on Wednesday because of the elections.
At the same time, Astral Aviation, which operates a number of cargo flights to Mogadishu every week, has cancelled cargo flights to Somalia set for Thursday and Sunday.
“The elections (at the airport) have affected us and we have had to cancel cargo that was due to be transported on Tuesday,” said Meshack Kipturgo, managing director of Siginon Group.
Cargo destined for Somalia includes fresh produce, humanitarian consignments mainly for United Nations agencies and miraa.
Mr. Kipturgo said Siginon was monitoring the situation before resuming flights.
Astral chief executive Sanjeev Gadhia said that business has been low since the beginning of February as their clients cut back on cargo to be transported.
Mr Gadhia said that air freight to Somalia is normally 15 tonnes on Thursdays alone, but it has so far dropped by half.
“We normally have two flights a week, on Thursdays and Sundays. We have postponed them until the elections are over,” said Mr. Gadhia.
Somalia lawmakers convened at the country’s airport in the capital Mogadishu to elect their president after months of delays and threats from Al-Shabaab militants, which delayed the poll that was meant to be held last year.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the value of exports to Somalia grew to Sh15 billion last year from Sh13 billion the previous year.
Astral increased its flight frequency across the region in 2015 following rising demand for air freight and a reduction in some of the local routes.
The firm has cranked up trips to Juba and Mogadishu and is servicing Hargeisa and Djibouti from Mogadishu.
The airline now flies to Juba three times a week to cater for increasing cargo volumes, capitalising on the low number of airlines flying to the region due to political instability and insecurity.
Credit: Business Daily