All East Africa - Latest NewsERITREAEthiopia

First Addis to Asmara flight fully booked

The strong bonds that bind Eritreans with Ethiopians have been confirmed by the snapping up of all the tickets for the inaugural flight between the neighbours next Wednesday.

Tickets for the Addis Ababa to Asmara flight by the Ethiopian Airlines sold out in a couple of hours after being put on sale, source confirmed.

The flight was scheduled after Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a normalisation of relations and peace agreement in Asmara on Sunday.

Family members divided due to the two decades border war and other travellers wishing to visit the old colonial city of Asmara were delighted to purchase the tickets.

Several families

Eritrea, once a province of Ethiopia, gained independence in 1991 after 30 years of war.

The two countries fought another border war from 1998-2000, which caused the deaths of more than 100,000 people and left several families separated for the last 20 years.

More than 70,000 Eritreans were deported from Ethiopia on the eve of the war, while Eritrea also expelled 45,000 Ethiopians in late 1990s.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki inked an agreement to end the war and resume diplomatic ties and trade.

Reform agenda

As part of normalisation of relations, the Ethiopian Airlines seized the opportunity to inaugurate the Addis Ababa – Asmara route.

The airline also announced a plan to purchase 20 per cent of a less known and smaller Eritrean Airlines.

Telecommunication services have also been restored between the former foes.

Mr Abiy has since taking office in April, pursued an ambitious reform agenda that has reversed some of the defining policies of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

He has released prominent dissidents from jail and also announced the partial liberalisation of the economy.

However, some have raised concerns that the pace of Mr Abiy’s reforms may upset some party hardliners.

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