Barely a year ago, the old terminal at the Aden Abdulle Airport in Mogadishu was a traveler’s headache having to do with one arrival and departure terminal, crowded and disorderly immigration section topped up with sweltering heat.
Fast forward October 2015 and Aden Abdulle ranks at par if not better than a number of its contemporaries in Africa. A spacious terminal with separate domestic and international sections, both arrival and departure, exotic lounge and cafe, integrated ticketing system among a host of other high end services akin to a modern aviation facility.
But it has not been a walk in the park, says Mustafa Durgut, the marketing and public relations manager of the Turkish based ground handling company, Favori which is the face behind the turn around of Mogadishu’s flagship facility.
“Two years ago when we came there was a small terminal with people so crowded that it was even difficult to be served. But we put pen to paper and hit the ground to build this magnificent terminal which is now the face of Somalia,” said Durgut in an exclusive interview with Goobjoog News.
For Favori it was not just about building an aviation facility, it was about setting standards for the airline industry in Somalia with the dream of making Mogadishu an aviation hub and boosting trade in years to come.
“This airport is the face of Somalia, when people come here for the first time, the first impact is this terminal itself. This is not Favori, this is Somalia and if people come here and see this terminal, they can believe in Somalia and they will want to do business in this country,” adds Durgut.
Favori signed a contract with the government of Somali in 2013. Part of the contract involved building the new international standard terminal, managing the facility and developing it to incorporate all aspects of industry standard facilities.
“We have finished phase one of the project which involved the construction of the terminal and cargo handling sections. The second part involves the expansion of the apron and the ramp site to accommodate more traffic,” said Durgut.
Durgut said the terminal and cargo sections are now ready for night flights but the run way is yet to be fixed with lighting to facilitate night flights. The facility also still needs a car parking area to ease passenger movement and VIP parks.
To set its sights on international standards, Durgut said Favori is now engaging with the UN aviation regulatory agency, ICAO to get certification of the airport in order to ensure it can compete favourably with other airports in the world.
An integrated ticketing system has also eased operations for airlines and could translate to a slash in airfares as airlines are experiencing reduced costs and improved efficiency.
Despite success in the last one year, Durgut says security and attendant factors as bureaucracy in movement of goods and passengers in the airport is a major challenge. “Since we have to import all the equipment and machinery for use here, clearance from the African Union troops, AMISOM slows down operations. Passengers coming to the airport also experience extensive security checks, all of which contribute to making our work a little hard. However we understand the necessity and hope that we will get through this with time,” observed Durgut.
The new terminal, which was commissioned by jointly by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan early this year has attracted a number of airlines with Trukish airways leading the park with daily flights to Mogadishu.