-Postpones resumption of flights to Hargeisa

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Ethiopian Airlines on Thursday announced that it will start new flight services to Berbera, the port city of Somaliland as of July1. Ethiopian will fly to Berbera daily using its Bombardier Q400 aircraft, with three morning and four afternoon flights.

According to Ethiopian the addition of Berbera to its network will bring its international destinations in Africa to 43, excluding its 17 domestic points, thus further solidifying its position as the airline that provides the most convenient connection to and from Africa.

Ethiopian used to fly to Hargeisa, the capital of the self-declared state of  Somaliland, until 2008. The national flag carrier suspended its flights to Hargeisa due to security concerns.  The then CEO of Ethiopian, Girma Wake, said that Ethiopian was forced to suspended its flights to Hargeisa due to its concern with the airport security of Hargeisa Airport, which was not compliant to international standards. However, after a prolonged discussion between the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority and the Somaliland authorities the two parties have reached an agreement that would enable Ethiopian to resume its flight services to Hargeisa.

Ethiopian said it does not want to comment on security issues However, it said, it does not fly to any destination without ensuring all the required facilities are in place.

A senior official at the Ethiopian Civil Aviation authority told The Reporter that the Somaliland authorities have solved all the problems related to airport security issues. “All the necessary surveillance equipment are in place. Basic airport infrastructures have been built to the level of our satisfaction. Therefore now Ethiopian can fly to our friendly neighbour,” the official said.

However, Ethiopian said, the resumption of flights to Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, scheduled for June 10, 2012 has been deffered as renovation of runway at Hargeisa airport has not been completed. Once the renovation at Hargeisa airport is completed, Ethiopian plans to start flights immediately.

Berbera, a seaport town with the only sheltered harbor on the south side of the Gulf of Aden, is playing an increasing role as an alternative sea trading door for the East Africa region. It is the most important city in Somaliland next to its capital city, Hargeisa.

Ethiopian’s addition of Berbera to its network, in addition to strengthening trade networks in East Africa, will enable international travelers from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas a much more convenient and easy access to the Somalia Region.

As there is a huge Somaliland diapora population in North America and Europe, Ethiopian is believed to transport a substantial number of passengers from North America and Europe to Somaliland where no international carrier flies except a couple of private airlines.