Ethiopia: Commercial Flights to Eritrea Resumes

Passengers pose for a selfie picture inside an Ethiopian Airlines flight which departed from the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Eritrea's capital Asmara on July 18, 2018.

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The first commercial flight in 20 years from Ethiopia to Eritrea has landed in the Eritrean capital, the latest sign of normalized ties between the longtime foes.

Ethiopian Airlines tweeted a picture of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner taking off for the short flight from Addis Ababa to Asmara with the caption “The bird of peace has just flown to #Asmara! #Familyreunion #Ethiopia #Eritrea”

Photo taken at Asmara airport after the first passenger flight in 20 years from Addis Ababa landed. The man waving his arms is former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegm, who was among the passengers.

Passengers on the flight included former Ethiopian prime minister Haliemariam Desalegn, who led the travelers off the plane onto a red carpet at the Asmara airport, according to a VOA Horn of Africa reporter at the scene.

The flight is the latest chapter in a new and fast-moving era of detente that began when Ethiopia’s new reformist prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, announced in June that Addis Ababa would finally honor a deal signed in 2000 to end a two-year border war that killed an estimated 70,000 people.

Eritrean Airline flight attendants greet the arrivals.

Earlier this month, Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki signed a historic peace deal that formally ended one of Africa’s longest, most intractable conflicts.

The two nations have since restored telephone lines, and Eritrea has reopened its embassy in Addis Ababa on Monday.

Eritrea was a former province of Ethiopia until breaking away and declaring its independence in 1993.

– Tewelde Tesfagabir I VOA