flydubai is set to become the first carrier to operate direct flights from the UAE to Somaliland with the announcement that it has scheduled  four weekly to Hargeisa from the 5th March 2015.

Somaliland is a self-declared republic in northwestern Somalia, with Hargeisa, a city lying about 1,500 km northwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu, as its capital.

Omar Abdullahi Adan, director general of Somaliland’s Ministry of Airports and Air Transport, stated that his ministry had held talks with flydubai officials on several occasions during 2014, and that “discussions ended with the Somaliland Government issuing a licence.”

He added that, “Hargeisa’s Egal International Airport has been rehabilitated to international standards, enabling major carriers to fly in. We welcome all interested airlines.”

Somaliland declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991, and although not officially recognised by the international community, the region has proven itself to be stable in its self-rule and maintains an open political and diplomatic dialogue with the Gulf States.

Economically, Somliland is also a major exporter of livestock to the Gulf States, and has hopes to become the centre for animal exports for the whole Horn of Africa.

Of the move by flydubai, Sudhir Sreedharan, senior VP for the GCC, India and Africa, added: “We are committed to bringing flydubai’s services to underserved markets like Hargeisa and giving passengers options to travel to the UAE and beyond through Dubai’s aviation hub.”

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The addition represents an expansion of its network in Africa to 13 destinations served by 60 weekly flights, while the carrier as a whole has linked Dubai to 56 underserved destinations since it started its operations in 2009.

COO Hamad Obaidalla said: “2014 was a busy year for flydubai. We announced 26 new routes since January and took delivery of eight new aircraft to support our growth plans. We are very excited about the untapped opportunities in the emerging African markets. “

By the end of the first quarter of 2015, flydubai will have expanded its footprint to 89 destinations in 46 countries.