Ethiopian Airlines to resume flights to Tigray after peace settlement
The peace agreement signed in Pretoria and Nairobi has given a new lease of life to the people of northern Ethiopia, following the resumption of critical services that have been suspended for the past two years, with Ethiopian Airlines the latest entity to announce plans to resume services.
On Wednesday, the national carrier announced plans to resume flights to Tigray’s regional administrative capital Mekelle, with Shire town also the next destination. The airline also announced that it was repairing Axum’s airport in the region, which was badly damaged.
Mesfin Tassew, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, told state media Ethiopian News Agency that the national airline will start flights to the Tigray region soon after the peace agreement between the government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front [TPLF] after a year of suspension.
He said the Mekelle and Shire airports in the Tigray region are in good condition to accommodate the resumption of flights. Fighting was particularly intense in the Shire following the decision by the Air Force to use drones in recent months in pursuit of TPLF fighter jets, which ended up killing civilians.
Axum’s airport was badly damaged last year after Eritrean troops stormed the region, causing massive looting of property and civilian deaths. The airport was used as a strategic point for the delivery of weapons said to have been used to promote genocide in the region.
However, the decision to resume flights comes months after the TPLF accused the airline of facilitating the genocide in Tigray by transporting soldiers and weapons to the region. For the fifteenth time, the national carrier has dismissed the claims, noting that it has never been involved in ear-related activities.
The war started in November 2020 following political differences between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The peace deal signed in Nairobi has been hailed by both parties as “historic” with promoters now calling for its immediate implementation.
Already, the United States has warned parties that may be tempted to frustrate the implementation of the agreement, noting that those responsible will face sanctions against them. The TPLF wants the Eritrean troops to withdraw immediately and pull out of Tigray before any meaningful implementation.