Photo taken on October 12, 2017 shows Ethiopian Airlines aircraft at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. (Xinhua / Michael Tewelde)
Addis ABABA, November 10 (Xinhua) – Ethiopian Airlines (ET) flag carrier has launched three direct passenger flights between the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and the Somali capital, Mogadishu, after 41 years of rest, adding momentum to enhance bilateral economic relations.
Direct flights between Ethiopia and Somalia were suspended soon after the 1977-78 border war broke out between the two countries.
The launch of commercial flights between Ethiopia and Somalia also came amid wider optimism in the Horn of Africa region and came after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made a state visit to Somalia in June, in an effort to improve political and economic relations between the two countries. country.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the flight at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, Abdullahi Mohammed Warfa, deputy head of the Mission at the Somali Embassy to Ethiopia, said the flight will help connect Somalia's large diaspora to its homeland.
"We want to ask Ethiopia to continue its support on the one hand and to continue to connect our people who are in Mogadishu and throughout Somalia, connecting them with other goals in the world," Warfa said.
Warfa also said he had personal reasons to celebrate the resumption of direct flights between Addis Ababa and Mogadishu, because the new flight route significantly cut the flight time he had to travel to between the two cities.
"When I came to Addis Ababa from Mogadishu, I often went to Nairobi or the city of Djibouti or other places to come to Addis Ababa," he said.
"It took four to five hours to come to Addis Ababa, but now it is easy and I will go in less than two hours, thank you, Ethiopian Airlines."
Warfa's optimism was shared by Ali Adem Mohammed, Deputy Chair of the Somali community in Ethiopia, who said he hoped cargo flights would be added soon, completing passenger flights already launched.
"This flight will further strengthen ties between Ethiopia and Somalia, I hope the next ET step will start cargo flights on passenger flights," Mohammed said.
The CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Group Tewolde GebreMariam, for his part emphasized the historical nature of the return of flights between Addis Ababa-Mogadishu and its potential economic benefits.
"Today, this is a great day to restart direct flights between Addis Ababa and Mogadishu after 40 years, today is a historic day. Trade, investment and tourism relations between Ethiopia and Somalia have been challenged by a lack of adequate air connectivity," he said . .
"The return of air services will promote promoting tourism, trade and investment relations between Ethiopia and Somalia, and promoting cross-border investment and human relations," he continued.
GebreMariam told Xinhua that Ethiopian Airlines also plans to launch cargo flights to Mogadishu, with the aim of facilitating Somali seafood exports throughout the world, especially China.
"We have seen how seafood exports from countries like Madagascar and Comoros through our Addis Ababa International Airport to China have improved their economies, Somalia will soon join this scheme," he continued.
Ethiopian Airlines in October launched transport services from the Norwegian capital Oslo to Guangzhou in southern China, transporting twice a week Norwegian seafood products to Chinese customers.