Turkish Airlines started commercial flights to Somalia
Istanbul to Mogadishu flight is first airline service linking Somali capital with world beyond east Africa since descent into war
Turkey's deputy prime minister, Bekir Bozdag, right, with Somalia's president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, after the maiden flight from Istanbul to Mogadishu. The first major commercial airline flight into Somalia's volatile capital in more than 20 years has touched down safely.
Turkish Airlines' maiden flight to Mogadishu was the first from outside east Africa since the country descended into anarchy and war. It was the latest sign of confidence in growing stability in the Somali capital – and of Turkey's emergence as an influential geopolitical player.
Bekir Bozdag, the Turkish deputy prime minister, was among a high-profile delegation on board the flight from Istanbul's Atatürk airport. He was welcomed by Somalia's president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, as well as the acting prime minister, parliamentary speaker and other members of the cabinet.
Bozdag said: "After 20 years of a lack of international flights to Europe, Asia and America, the Turkish government has facilitated for the Somalis to travel by Turkish Airlines to the world again."
Turkey's national carrier intends to operate a twice-weekly passenger service from Istanbul and hopes it will prove popular with Somali exiles around the world.
Cemalettin Kani Torun, the Turkish ambassador to Somalia, told the Africa Review website that Turkish Airlines flew to 1destinations around the world, adding: "Such a huge network will facilitate diaspora Somalis flying home."