Somali Airlines

Somali Airlines was the flag carrier of Somalia. Established in 1964, it offered flights to both domestic and international destinations. It operated Boeing 720Bs, Boeing 707-300s and Airbus A310-300s on a network to the Middle East and Europe.[1] The airline discontinued operations after the start of the civil war in the early 1990s, when the country fell into anarchy.[2] A reconstituted Somali government later began preparations in 2012 for an expected relaunch of the carrier,[3] with the first new Somali Airlines aircraft scheduled for delivery by the end of December 2013.[4]

Somali Airlines
Somali Airlines logo.
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded5 March 1964 (1964-03-05)
Commenced operationsJuly 1964 (1964-07)
Ceased operations1991 (1991)
HubsMogadishu International Airport
Secondary hubsHargeisa International Airport
Parent companyGovernment of Somalia (100%)
HeadquartersMogadishu, Somalia



Somali Airlines was founded on 5 March 1964 as the newly independent Somalia's national airline.[5][6] The country's then civilian government and Alitalia owned equal shares in the company,[5] with each holding a 50% controlling stake.[6] Under a five-year agreement, Alitalia provided the airline with technical support.[7] According to Somali Airlines' Director at the time, Abdulahi Shireh, the carrier was established primarily to more effectively connect the capital Mogadishu to other regions in the nation.[8]

Shortly after the carrier was formed, four Douglas DC-3s were donated by the United States.[7] The airline began operations in July 1964 (1964-07), initially serving domestic destinations with a fleet of three DC-3s and two Cessna 180s.[6] Prior to this, local services had been operated by Aden Airways.[7] The Mogadishu–Aden run kept being flown under a pool agreement with Aden Airways until March 1965, when Somali Airlines embarked on serving the route to this destination with its own aircraft.[9] A service to Nairobi was later launched in January 1966 (1966-01).[10] It was discontinued in June the same year, after the carrier was banned from flying into Kenyan airspace following Radio Mogadishu airing verbal attacks against the Kenyan President Jomo Kenyatta.[9] A weekly service to Dar-es-Salaam was introduced in October 1967 (1967-10).[11]

A Belgium-registered Airbus A310-200 in Somali Airlines livery at Fiumicino Airport (1989).

At March 1970 (1970-03), the airline's president was Abdi Mohamed Namus, who employed 120 workers. At this time, the fleet consisted of two Cessna 185s, three DC-3s and four Viscount 700s.[10] One of these Viscounts (6O-AAJ) experienced an accident while landing at Mogadishu on 6 May 1970. The aircraft was on final approach when the crew realised that the flight controls were not responding. Control of the aircraft was partly gained by the use of power, but the airframe landed hard, causing the nose gear to collapse. Five people perished in the accident, out of 30 occupants on board.[9] In early 1974, a contract with Tempair for the provision of a Boeing 720B, to be deployed on the Mogadishu–London route, as well as on flights within Africa and to the Middle East, was signed;[12] the agreement effectively came into being in April 1974 (1974-04).[13]: 487  In late 1975, two Fokker F27s were acquired.[14] In 1976, the company purchased two Boeing 720Bs from American Airlines, the two last ones in service with the American carrier.[15] It also ordered a further two Boeing 707s.[8] Somali Airlines later became a fully state-owned company in 1977, when the government acquired 49% of the shares held by Alitalia.[9]

By July 1980 (1980-07), the fleet consisted of two Boeing 707-320Cs, two Boeing 720Bs, two Fokker F27-600s, two DC-3s, one Cessna 402 and one Cessna 180.[16] Colonel Mohamoud Gulaid was appointed chairman and CEO during 1983.[9] At 1985 (1985), the number of employees was 714 and the fleet had reduced to include two Boeing 707-320Cs and two F.27-600s, with routes operated from Berbera and Mogadishu to Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Frankfurt, Jeddah, Nairobi and Rome.[17] In February 1987 (1987-02), a new route to Banjul and Conakry was launched,[9] and a firm order for an Airbus A310-300 was placed late that year, with an option for another one; the aircraft was aimed at replacing the 707 fleet on routes to Europe and the Middle East.[18]

Due to the outbreak of the civil war in the early 1990s, all of the carrier's operations were officially suspended in 1991.[19][20] The void created by the collapse of the airline has since been filled by various Somali-owned private carriers, such as Jubba Airways, Daallo Airlines and Puntair.[21]


In April 2012, former Somali Airlines pilots, Abikar Nur and Ahmed Elmi Gure, met with aviation officials at the Lufthansa Flight Training Center in Phoenix, United States, to discuss the possibility of resuming the historic working relationship between Somali Airlines and Lufthansa. The meeting ended with a pledge by the school's chairman, Captain Matthias Kippenberg, to assist the Somali aviation authorities in training prospective pilots.[22]

In July 2012, Mohammed Osman Ali (Dhagah-tur), the General Director of the Ministry of Aviation and Transport, announced that the Somali government had begun preparations to revive the national carrier, Somali Airlines.[23] The Somali authorities along with the Somali Civil Aviation Steering Committee (SCASC) — a joint commission composed of officials from Somalia's federal and regional governments as well as members of the CACAS, ICAO/TCB and UNDP — convened with international aviation groups in Montreal to request support for the ongoing rehabilitation efforts. The SCASC set a three-year window for reconstruction of the national civil aviation capacity. It also requested the complete transfer of Somali civil aviation operations and assets from the CACAS caretaker body to the Somali authorities.[3]

In November 2013, the German-based Skyliner reported that a new Boeing 737-400 cargo airliner was scheduled to be transferred from Budapest airport to Mogadishu by the end of December.[4] The plane was concurrently being painted in the Somali national colours ahead of delivery.[1] A staff representative for the Slovakian SAMair company, Zsolt Kovács, also indicated that another aircraft was also undergoing construction at the airport and that both planes had been purchased from SAMair by the Somali federal authorities on behalf of Somali Airlines.[4]


The following is a list of destinations the airline served throughout its history:

Country City Airport Refs
Djibouti Djibouti City Djibouti–Ambouli International Airport [11]
Egypt Cairo Cairo International Airport [11]
Germany Frankfurt Frankfurt Airport [11]
Italy Rome Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport [11]
Kenya Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International Airport [11]
Qatar Doha Doha International Airport [11]
Saudi Arabia Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport [11]
Seychelles Mahé Seychelles International Airport [24]
Somalia Berbera Berbera Airport [25]
Hargeisa Hargeisa International Airport [6]
Kismayo Kismayo Airport [6]
Mogadishu Aden Adde International Airport [11]
United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi International Airport [11]
Dubai Dubai International Airport [11]
Yemen Aden Aden International Airport [6]


A Somali Airlines Boeing 707-320B at Fiumicino Airport (1989).

Somali Airlines operated the following aircraft all through its history:[26]

Accidents and incidentsEdit

According to Aviation Safety Network, Somali Airlines experienced six events throughout its history; five of the occurrences carried with the hull-loss of the aircraft involved, and three of them had fatalities.[27]

Date Location Aircraft Tail number Aircraft damage Fatalities Description Refs
6 May 1970   Mogadishu Viscount 700 6O-AAJ W/O 5/30 The aircraft was on final approach to Mogadishu International Airport when control was lost due to a fire that erupted in the cargo hold. Upon a nose-down landing, the nosegear collapsed and the airplane continued rolling on her nose until it came to rest. The fire intensified, eventually engulfing the fuselage and destroying it completely. [28]
16 August 1975   Bosaso Douglas C-47A 6O-SAC W/O 0/11 Crashed shortly after takeoff from Bosaso Airport, following a failure on the port engine. [29][30]
20 July 1981   Balad F-27-600RF 6O-SAY W/O 50/50 Flight 40 crashed near Balad and burned out, minutes after take-off from Mogadishu International Airport on a domestic scheduled Mogadishu–Hargeisa passenger service. The aircraft encountered severe turbulence on its flight path when it entered an area of heavy rain and started to dive. The stresses the airframe went through during the dive—up to 5.76 g—exceeded the ones it could possibly withstand, and parts of the starboard wing got detached. [31][32]
17 May 1989   Nairobi 707-320B 6O-SBT W/O 0/70 Overran the wet runway at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport following an aborted take-off. [33]
28 June 1989   Hargeisa F27-200RF 6O-SAZ W/O 30/30 Rebels claimed to have shot down the aircraft, that had departed from Hargeisa International Airport bound for Mogadishu, during initial climbout. [34][35]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Somali Airlines' much awaited rebirth imminent as first B737 sighted". Ch-Aviation. 20 February 2020. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  2. ^ "Somalia Anarchy". BBC News. 26 January 2011. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Somalia to revive national airline after 21 years". Laanta. 24 July 2012. Archived from the original on 2 November 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2012.
  4. ^ a b c "The long awaited Somali Airlines is Coming Back!". Keydmedia Online. 20 November 2013.
  5. ^ a b Aeroplane and Commercial Aviation News. 114: 32. 1967. {{cite journal}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ a b c d e f "World Airline Survey... – Somali Airlines". Flight International. 87 (2927): 601. 15 April 1965. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016.
  7. ^ a b c Guttery (1998), p. 160.
  8. ^ a b "African Buyer and Trader". African Development. 10: 533. 1976.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Guttery (1998), p. 161.
  10. ^ a b "World airlines 1970 – Somali Airlines". Flight International. 97 (3185): 501. 26 March 1970. Archived from the original on 30 December 2013.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "World Airline Directory – Somali Airlines". Flight International: 128. 14–20 March 1990. Archived from the original on 30 December 2013.
  12. ^ "Somali 720B". Flight International. 105 (3387): 163. 7 February 1974. Archived from the original on 7 January 2014. Tempair International of Windsor has signed an agreement with Somali Airlines to operate a Boeing 720B for the airline for an initial period of 18 months. The aircraft will be operated over a route network linking Mogadishu, the Somali capital, with London, Rome, Cairo, Jeddah, Sana'a, Abu Dhabi and Nairobi.
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Airliner market" (PDF). Flight International: 555. 16 October 1975. Retrieved 9 February 2012. Somali Airlines has bought two Fokker-VFW F.27-600s, for delivery by mid-1977
  15. ^ "Airliner market" (PDF). Flight International: 1221. 8 May 1976. Retrieved 9 February 2012. Somali Airlines has bought American Airlines' last two Boeing 720Bs
  16. ^ "World airline directory – Somali Airlines" (PDF). Flight International: 352. 26 July 1980. Retrieved 9 February 2012.
  17. ^ "World airline directory – Somali Airlines". Flight International. 127 (3953). 30 March 1985. ISSN 0015-3710. Archived from the original on 7 January 2014.
  18. ^ "MARKET PLACE". Flight International: 7. 7 November 1987. Retrieved 19 October 2011. Somali Airlines has ordered an Airbus A310-300, with an option on one more. The General Electric CF6-80C2 powered aircraft will be delivered in October 1988, and will be used on the airline's routes to Europe and the Middle East, replacing its Boeing 707.
  19. ^ World of Information (Firm), Africa Review, (World of Information: 2003), p.299.
  20. ^ "World airline directory – Somali Airlines". Flight International. 5–11 April 1995. Archived from the original on 12 May 2013.
  21. ^ Somalia Private Carriers
  22. ^ "Reviving the aviation industry in Somalia". Hiiraan Online. 1 April 2012. Archived from the original on 28 April 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2012.
  23. ^ "Re-Engineering Africa's Air Transport System: CAFE's role" (PDF). Crabtree Capital. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 March 2016. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  24. ^ OAG Flight Guide 1991
  25. ^ "World Airline Directory – Somali Airlines". Flight International: 123. 29 March 1986. Archived from the original on 1 August 2015.
  26. ^ "SubFleets for: Somali Airlines". AeroTransport Data Bank. 30 January 2012. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  27. ^ "Accident record for Somali Airlines". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 2 February 2012.
  28. ^ Accident description for 6O-AAJ at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 2 February 2012.
  29. ^ Accident description for 6O-SAC at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 30 January 2012.
  30. ^ "Public-transport accidents" (PDF). Flight International: 514. 9 October 1975. Retrieved 19 October 2011. A DC-3 of Somali Airlines crashed on August 16 at Bosaso while on a scheduled flight, injuring three crew; the eight passengers were not injured.
  31. ^ Accident description for 6O-SAY at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 30 January 2012.
  32. ^ "Commercial flight safety: 1981 reviewed – FATAL ACCIDENTS: SCHEDULED PASSENGER FLIGHT". Flight International: 183. 23 January 1982. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  33. ^ Accident description for 6O-SBT at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 30 January 2012.
  34. ^ Accident description for 6O-SAZ at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 30 January 2012.
  35. ^ "The complacent year–safety 1989—COMMERCIAL FLIGHT SAFETY – FATAL OCCURRENCES INVOLVING SABOTAGE, HIJACK OR MILTTARY ACTION AGAINST CIVILIAN TARGETS". Flight International: 43. 17–23 January 1990. Retrieved 30 January 2012.


  • Guttery, Ben R. (1998). Encyclopedia of African Airlines. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-7864-0495-7.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Somali Airlines at Wikimedia Commons