No sooner did Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki return from his historic three-day visit to Ethiopia on Monday, than Ethiopian officials planned their own journey – this time, aboard the inaugural Ethiopian Airlines flight to Asmara.
Flight 0312 leaves Addis Ababa at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, with an expected arrival time of 10:10 a.m. Passengers on board will include former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, other government officials, and a contingent of Ethiopian investors, artists and journalists.
The Government of Eritrea said the flight reflects the commitment of both governments to re-establish trade, transport and communications, which was one of five pillars of the newly negotiated peace agreement between the two longtime foes. Phone lines were reconnected between them last week.
Afwerki reopened the Eritrean embassy in the Ethiopian capital on Monday during his visit with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Abiy previously visited Afwerki earlier this month amid the fast-paced talks which led to the July 9 agreement.
For their part, Ethiopian Airlines officials are excited to be part of the renewed relationship on the Horn of Africa, spurred by the reform-minded Abiy’s decision to accept the terms of a land-dispute ruling legally established in 2000 but never honored by Ethiopia.
“We at Ethiopian feel an immense honor and joy to resume scheduled flights to Asmara after 20 years,” said CEO Tewolde GebreMariam in a statement. “The resumption of air links will play a critical role in boosting the overall political, economic, trade and people-to-people ties between the two sisterly countries.”