A Dubai aviation company with a taste for global hot spots has agreed to run airport operations in Mogadishu.
SKA Air and Logistics, which prides itself on "doing difficult jobs in difficult places", has signed an agreement with the transitional government of Somalia to bring Aden Adde International Airport into compliance with international standards, said a company official in Dubai who wished to remain anonymous.
"We will be putting a lot of manpower and equipment in place in next few weeks," he said.
The 10-year contract includes managing the passenger terminals, security screening and passenger security, SKA officials in Somalia told Agence France-Presse.
SKA has operations at airports throughout Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. The company's promotional video says it "specialises in working in the world's hot spots, war zones and troubled areas where few others could manage such complex and difficult projects". SKA's Iraq operations involve ground control and flight support, including conducting flights for crop-spraying, and missions in support of national elections. It said it has conducted more than 36,000 flight missions in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past three years.
Several SKA staff members are already based at Mogadishu airport training Somali personnel, according to news reports. Airport operations are restricted to a "sunrise to sunset" schedule, but SKA plans to improve efficiency when features such as runway lighting are restored, the official said.
The biggest operators using Mogadishu airport at present are UN charters, Jubba Airways of Somalia, African Express Airways of Kenya, and Daallo Airlines of Djibouti.
Somalia, located in the Horn of Africa, has had no functioning central government since 1991, and rebel forces control much of the capital and surrounding areas.
Aden Adde airport, on the seafront in the area of Mogadishu controlled by the government, is secured by troops from the African Union force AMISOM, which has its main base there.
When asked about the safety of basing company officials in Somalia to begin implementing the contract, the SKA official said: "It is fair to say Mogadishu is still a dangerous place, but safety has improved."