A Kenyan aircraft chartered by the Somali embassy in Nairobi to transport Somali national back home was Thursday ordered to return mid-air after Kenyan authorities said it was illegally transporting khat.
Senior officials at Somali Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) told HOL it ordered the Jetways Aircraft Fokker MK70 to return to Nairobi after it received communication from its counterpart in Nairobi that the plane was carrying the leafy stimulant khat.
Somalia banned the importation of khat in April as part of measures to counter the spread of the COVID19 global pandemic.
HOL has learnt the passengers aboard the plane had smuggled khat disguised as personal luggage contrary to aviation restrictions. It was not immediately clear how the baggage was cleared at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
SCAA sources told HOL the aircraft had entered the Somali airspace when it received communication from Kenya Civil Aviation Authority to order the plane to return to Nairobi.
Jetways resumed its flight to Mogadishu after smuggled khat was off-loaded.
Somalia revoked the licenses of two Kenyan airlines- Buff Air Service and Silverstone Airlines in June after they were found to have been transporting khat landing at Buhodle and Jowhar Airstrips in May.
Another Kenyan aircraft landed in Dhobley in late June transporting khat disguised as humanitarian supplies. A plane from Mogadishu reportedly picked the cargo and carried them to Barawe.
Somali Embassy in Nairobi has not yet commented on the matter.