18 July 2018

Eritrea: Flight Resumption Key in Strengthening Ethio-Eritrean Ties

Photo: Ethiopian Airlines
Ethiopian Airlines launches first flight with an all-female crew (file photo).

ADDIS ABABA- The resumption of flight to Eritrean capital Asmara would play an immense role in strengthening the two countries commercial and people-to-people ties, an economics expert said.

The flight resumption follows the agreements reached in Asmara between Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki in the recommencement of the two countries air and land transport.

Speaking to The Ethiopian Herald, Economics Associate Professor at Jimma University Dr. Wondaferahu Mulugeta said that the direct flight to and from Asmara is crucial in advancing the trade and investment relations between the two countries.

Mentioning the airline owns one of the largest and biggest Cargo and Logistic Center with one million tonnes annual uplift capacity, Dr. Wondaferahu stated that Ethiopian has always been at the forefront in catalyzing the country's trade; import and export of goods.

The Associate Professor pointed out that the flight resumption is essential in attracting Eritrean investors to benefit from Ethiopia's wider investment opportunities and a comparatively big market whilst encouraging their Ethiopian counterparts to do business in Eritrea. The flight also equally important in revitalizing the two countries strong trade ties.

Dr. Wondaferahu noted that the move would play a significant role in bringing the two countries closer and Ethiopian would also serve as a bridge between Eritrea and other countries of the world. By the same token, the free movement of people contributes in averting the mistrust between the two countries.

According to the Expert, the E-Visa service that the Ethiopian Airlines has introduced recently for international visitors is helpful for Eritrean visitors to apply, pay and secure their entry visa online.

Concerning tourism, the scholar said that the Airline's daily Historic Route Service is expected to enhance the flow of Eritrean tourists to Ethiopia's famous historic and natural tourist attraction sites.

Stating the complementarity of the two countries tourism opportunities, the Associate Professor stated that the flight resumption is key in enabling Ethiopia and Eritrea to build their competences and knowledge to offer attractive packages for international tourists.

"Ethiopia has so many beautiful landscapes; and historical sites and Eritrea has the sea, so many underwater lives. And if the two countries put together what they have to the North American and European tourists, they will boost their tourism earnings."

The expert said that the Ethio-Eritrean airspace that has been closed for any air transportation for the past 20 years had forced Ethiopian to change air routes via Sudan and Djibouti to fly to the Middle East and Europe and has made flights longer and expensive.

With the re-opening of the airspace for commercial flights, Ethiopian could cross the Eritrean airspace and significantly reduce flight time and fuel consumption thereby enhancing its profitability in years to come, Dr. Wondaferahu noted.

Commending the Airliner's engagement for Africa's economic integration, the expert called on Ethiopian to invest for the acquisition of shares in Eritrean Airlines in the bid to furthering its leading position in continent's aviation industry.

Ethiopian Airlines announced that Asmara becomes its 114th destinations and the inaugural flight to the Eritrean capital is scheduled for today with the ultra-modern Boeing B-787 Dreamliner aircraft.

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