NAIROBI (Reuters) – Eritrean Airlines has begun regular flights to Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, the Eritrean information minister said on Saturday, marking another step in improving relations between the Horn of African countries after a generation of hostility.
Ethiopia’s state-affiliated media confirmed that a plane carrying Eritrean transport and tourism ministers and other officials had landed at Addis Ababa’s Bole international airport – the first time in two decades that such a flight had taken place, it said.
“Upon arrival at Bole, Ethiopia’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hirut Zemene and other senior Ethiopian officials, welcomed the delegation,” the report by Fana Broadcasting Corporation said.
Last month, an Ethiopian Airways plane became the first commercial flight from Ethiopia to Eritrea to land in Asmara in 20 years.
Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed offered in June to make peace with Eritrea two decades after the start of a conflict in which an estimated 80,000 people died.
Since signing an agreement in Asmara on July 9 to restore ties, the Eritrean and Ethiopian leaders have moved swiftly to sweep away hostility.
Abiy and Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki have already visited each other’s country.
“#Eritrea/n Airlines has begun regular flights to Addis Abeba today,” the Eritrean minister, Yemane Gebremeskel, wrote on Twitter.
“The new route will expand existing regional flights of the airline to Cairo, Khartoum, Jeddah and Dubai …”
The Ethiopian carrier’s chief executive told Reuters in an interview in July that it was in talks to take a stake in Eritrean Airlines.
Reporting by Omar Mohammed; Editing by Andrew Bolton