Air Uganda starts direct flights to Mogadishu By ABDULKADIR KHALIF in Mogadishu | Tuesday, July 9  2013 at  12:02

Air Uganda's maiden flight lands at Aden Abdulle International Airport in Mogadishu, on July 8, 2013. Air Uganda's inaugural flight into Mogadishu's international airport marks the second international airline to begin sending flights to Somalia.  AFP PHOTO / AU-UN IST PHOTO / TOBIN JONES

Privately-owned carrier Air Uganda has started direct flights from Entebbe to Mogadishu, joining the ranks of airlines that are servicing the recovering country.

Somali government officials and Ugandan diplomats Tuesday held a ceremony at Mogadishu’s Aden Abdulle International Airport to flag off operations.

“This kind of direct links between Somalia and Uganda is an indication of the development being attained by Somalia after years of civil conflict," Nathan Mugisha, the Uganda Ambassador to Somalia and a former commander in the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) said.

Somalia's Minister for Information, Posts and Transport, Mr Abdullahi Ilmoge Hersi, also welcomed the development that he said would further link Somalia to the rest of the world.

"The Somali government has granted Air Uganda [rights] to fly three times per week," said the minister.

"These flights will make it easier for Somalis to fly from home to other destinations by transferring flights from Uganda," he said, adding that Somalis abroad could use the same route home.

According to its website, Air Uganda is part of the Celestair Group, with sister airlines in West Africa including Air Burkina, Air Mali and Air Cote d’Ivoire. It also works in strategic partnership with Meridianafly and Air Italy in Europe.

The airline, widely seen as Uganda's national carrier, will fly to and from Mogadishu on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Somali is recovering from decades of civil war following the fall of the central government in 1991.

Turkish Airlines was the first international airline to start flights to Mogadishu.

The country has also been recognised by major bodies such as the International Monetary Fund.