Somalis turn to Ethiopian Airlines amid conflict with Kenya
MOGADISHU, Somalia - After the resumption of diplomatic ties between Mogadishu and Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Airlines seems to have reaped big, given also the current political tensions involving Kenya and Somalia, that has seen both parties shut their airspace.
For 41 years, Ethiopia and Somalia were involved in a diplomatic spat that was solved in 2018, after Abiy Ahmed took over as Prime Minister of the Horn of Africa nation. Since then, the relationship between the two parties has blossomed.
And now, Ethiopian Airlines is being chosen by many Somalis and Addis Ababa has become the biggest connection route for Somalis from London, Minneapolis US, Oslo, and Nairobi now they meet Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia Airlines makes nine flights a day in Somalia 3 to Mogadishu and 2 to Garowe and 2 to Hargeisa and 2 to Cargo. Previously, many Somalis used Kenya Airways [KQ] whose flights to Somalia have been drastically reduced due to diplomat spat between Nairobi and Mogadishu.
“Morning afternoon and evening flights are ready and reliable you don’t miss anything, “said Farhiya Ahmed a Somali in the diaspora who uses the Addis Ababa route many times in an interview with Dalsan TV in Somalia.
At Addis Ababa, Somalia citizens now arrive without visas just on arrival. Everyone who has a Somali passport can easily travel to Ethiopia for health, business, and family re-union as Somalis in western countries sponsoring families to reunite, Yusuf Mire working Mogadishu airport told Dalsan.
“As Nairobi now is tight to travel because of the diplomatic crisis between the 2 countries Ethiopia now has become the better option for connection and everything” Mire added.
Last year, there were a number of bilateral arrangements signed by Abiy Ahmed and President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo. The two leaders along with Eritrea President Isaias Afwerki also agreed to boost tripartite cooperation.
Ethiopia is willing to give a chance to our products like fish to boost trade ties between Somalia and Ethiopia. The move comes amid a diplomatic fallout between Kenya and Somalia, with the former now suspending flights to Mogadishu.
“Ethiopia tickets are affordable than Turkish but as a traveler, I prefer Ethiopia Airlines,” said, Abdullahi Mohamed.
Somalia and Ethiopia celebrate the restart of flights between Addis Ababa and Mogadishu, as the new flight route significantly cuts the travel time he had to endure to travel between the two cities.
“When I was coming to Addis Ababa from Mogadishu, I used to go through Nairobi or Djibouti city or forced to transit through other places to come to Addis Ababa,” Abdi said.
“It took four to five hours to come to Addis Ababa, but now it was made easy but now I can travel in less than two hours thanks to Ethiopian Airlines,” Abdi added.
Ethiopia Airlines operate the routes to Mogadishu and Hargeisa once a week offering a cargo capacity.
Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde Gebre Mariam, for his part, emphasized the historical nature of the resumption of flights between Addis Ababa-Mogadishu and its potential economic benefits.
“Today is a great day to re-start a direct flight between Addis Ababa and Mogadishu after 40 years, today is a historical day. Trade, investment, and tourism ties between Ethiopia and Somalia have been challenged by lack of adequate air connectivity,” he said.
“The resumption of air services will promote will tourism, trade relations and investment between Ethiopia and Somalia, as well promote cross border investment and people-to-people relations,” he further said.
But despite the smooth ties between the two countries, Ethiopia has however come under persistent pressure from some federal states in Somalia where it's accused of helping the federal government drive an authoritarian agenda to the people without their consent.
Addis Ababa, critics argue, has been using non-Amisom contingent in parts of Gedo to unleash on states that are believed to be anti-Mogadishu administration. However, in recent weeks, such claims have reduced following the signing of a pre-election deal between Farmajo and his competitor.