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Ethiopian Airlines confirms it is eying stake in Eritrean Airlines
Avitrader – July 20, 2018
This peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea, (a country of 5.5 million people) is good news for sure, the first flight in years between Addis Ababa and Asmara has already taken place, peace is what the world needs, more of.
The national airline Eritrea Airlines is sadly a joke, and needs Ethiopian Airlines to fix the rag-tag airline that started flying in 2002 with a B767-300ER from Boeing, yes a little too big for the one airplane airline, and started flying from Asmara to Amsterdam.
Then in 2006 it downgraded to an A320, always a wet lease of course, in 2007 it did not know what it wanted and brought in a B757, then a DC-9 and then an MD-80, yes whatever was available and surely finding an operator who wanted to come to Eritrea was not easy, the routes then were Frankfurt, Milan, Nairobi and Rome.
In 2011 the airline shut down, under sanctions it was tough to get any operator to fly for Eritrean Airlines, but then it decided on Dubai and Karachi? and brought in 2 x A320’s.
In 2012 it was banned from flying to the EU, and most recently we have seen a A319 from Bulgaria (photo above), a B737-300 from Yan Air and now a B737-500 from Alexandria Airlines (Egypt), so fleet planning and aircraft types come and go really fast in this underfunded, poorly managed national airline, I suspect they do not pay their bills on time or at all, and desperate ACMI operators come and go oblivious to the previous numerous operators that have come and gone over the years flying for Eritrean Airlines.
Let’s not forget Eritrea is a one-party state, and its 1997 constitution – which provided for the existence of multi-party politics – has never been fully implemented. Military conscription is mandatory and indefinite, according to Amnesty International.
It is a brutal dictatorship, President Isaias Afwerki has governed Eritrea since it became an independent country in 1993.
His People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDF) is the sole political party, like many African Presidents that stay too long, and destroy their nation in the meantime, from President Musevini (Uganda 1986), President Nguema Mbasogo (Equatorial Guinea 1979), President Guellah (Djibouti 1999), etc.
But we have seen the departures of President Zuma (RSA) and President Mugabe (Zimbabwe) so there is always hope for change.
Presidential elections planned for 1997 never took place and a constitution ratified in the same year has never been implemented. Mr Isaias has been criticised for failing to introduce democratic reforms.
Prolonged periods of conflict and severe drought have adversely affected Eritrea’s agriculture-based economy and it remains one of the poorest countries in Africa.
In a damning report into human rights abuses, the UN accused the government of crimes against humanity. By UN estimates, hundreds of thousands of Eritreans have fled the country in recent years, making the perilous journey across the Sahara and the Mediterranean to Europe
In a remarkable political turnaround since Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in February after the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn, a generation of hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea and the long-running border war has come to an end. The result has seen the first commercial flight between the two countries for twenty years with two 90-minute flights between Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and Asmara in Eritrea.
On board the plane was Tewolde Gabremariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines. During his visit, he spoke with the CEO of Eritrean Airways, whose fleet currently comprises a leased Boeing 737. Having confirmed Ethiopian Airlines interest in taking a stake in the neighboring airline, the size of investment will depend on the results of fact-finding missions.
According to Gabremariam: “It is beyond opening routes. This one is different because politically, economically and socially, the flight we flew yesterday is going to make radical changes between the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea. It is a game changer,” adding that based on what he had already seen, Ethiopian Airlines will begin flying twice daily to Asmara.
Gabrremariam also stated that: “The demand is heavy not only because of Eritrea and Ethiopia but also demand from Eritreans living in Europe, America and so on who are eager to visit friends and relatives in Asmara.
“Connections were (previously) not smooth for them to come back home. They have (had) to go through Dubai or Istanbul and it is not convenient. Now they will have direct flights from the U.S., Canada and Europe.”
Ethiopian Airlines has been buying shares in other African airlines, a strategy aimed at gaining a competitive advantage against rivals such as the major Gulf carriers.