Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise will reintroduce flights to Eritrea by mid-September, two decades after a border conflict upended relations between the Horn of Africa neighbors.
“Ethiopian Airlines get ready because soon you’ll start going to Eritrea and coming back,” Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said at a state dinner for a visiting Eritrean delegation in the capital, Addis Ababa. “Let us not transfer to our children hatred and the holding of grudges.”
Ethiopian Airlines’ Chief Executive Officer Tewolde Gebre Mariam said flights would resume “as soon as formalities are completed.”
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, in power from 1993 when the Red Sea state seceded from landlocked Ethiopia, sent a delegation including Foreign Minister Osman Saleh for talks in Ethiopia after Abiy said he was keen on normalizing relations.
Ethiopia announced on June 5 it would fully implement the so-called Algiers Agreement signed in 2000 to formally end a two-year war between the neighbors that killed about 100,000 people. The deal was never enacted, with Ethiopia refusing to recognize a monitor’s findings on ownership of the disputed border town of Badme.
“Instead of thinking about killing people, instead of being sleepless, let us think of how to develop our countries together, how to be borderless and protect our region,” Abiy said.
The ruling party recently announced plans to open up state monopolies in Africa’s fastest-growing economy, including Ethiopian Airlines, to foreign investors and in June lifted a state of emergency imposed after the snap resignation of Abiy’s predecessor, Hailemariam Desalegn.