ADDIS ABABA, July 18, 2018 (AFP) - The first commercial flight to Eritrea in two decades departed Wednesday from Addis Ababa after the two nations ended their bitter conflict in a whirlwind peace process.
Ethiopian Airlines said that flight ET0312 to Asmara had departed Bole International Airport, the latest concrete sign of a thaw between the neighbouring countries which began only six weeks ago.
"This day marks a unique event in the history of Ethiopia and Eritrea," the airline's chief executive Tewolde GebreMariam said at a ceremony inaugurating the historic flight.
Overwhelming demand saw the African aviation giant operate two flights within 15 minutes of each other.
"The fact that we are taking two flights at a time shows the eagerness of the people," said Tewolde.
An AFP journalist onboard the second flight said champagne was served to passengers in all classes, who toasted each other shortly before take-off.
Smiling flight attendants also handed out roses to the passengers.
Ethiopian Airlines, one of Africa's fastest-growing carriers, has said it would initially operate a once-a-day return flight between Addis Ababa and Asmara.
"With the demand we are witnessing, I think we're going to increase the frequency to twice a day, thrice a day and even more," said Tewolde.
He said the opening of the Eritrean airspace to Ethiopian Airlines would also mean more efficient routes to the Middle East.
Among the passengers on the first flight was former prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn, whose shock resignation in February was the first step in a series of shake ups in Ethiopian politics and the Horn of Africa at large.
"I knew one day it would happen," Hailemariam said of the peace with Eritrea.
Hailemariam was succeeded in April by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a 42-year-old former army officer and cabinet minister described by analysts as a "man in an extreme hurry".
After announcing the liberalisation of parts of the Ethiopian economy and releasing jailed dissidents, Abiy last month declared his intention to make peace with Eritrea after two decades of frozen relations.
Addis Ababa, July 10, 2018 (New Wires) - The first passenger flight between Ethiopia and Eritrea since the start of a 20-year conflict will take place next Wednesday, Ethiopian Airlines said in a statement.
The African aviation giant said on Tuesday it would initially operate a once-a-day return flight between Addis Ababa and Asmara but planned "very quickly" to operate multiple flights daily as well as cargo flights.
"With the opening of a new chapter of peace and friendship between the two sisterly countries, we look forward to starting flights to Asmara with the B787," said chief executive officer Tewolde GebreMariam.
"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."
An initial statement said the first flights between the two countries would take place on Tuesday July 17, but this was later pushed back to Wednesday July 18.
After decades of acrimony that followed a 1998-2000 border war that killed 80,000 people, Ethiopia and Eritrea on Monday declared the official end of the conflict in a dizzying rapprochement.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed paid a historic visit this week to his country's bitter foe in Eritrea, President Isaias Afwerki, after taking the shock decision last month to finally abide by a United Nations ruling demarcating the border between their nations.
The two nations have restored telephone communications for the first time in two decades and pledged to re-open embassies, while landlocked Ethiopia is to be allowed to use Eritrea's ports.
The opening of ties could be an economic boon to the two nations, both poor but on very different paths.
Ethiopia, with a population of 100 million, is forecast by the International Monetary Fund to be Africa's fastest-growing economy in 2018 with growth of 8.5 per cent. However it is struggling with mounting debt and foreign exchange shortages.
Abiy has announced a slew of reforms since his ascension to power, including the partial liberalisation of the economy.
Eritrea is one of the world's most isolated countries, where a policy of indefinite forced military conscription has seen hundreds of thousands flee the country to Europe.
CAIRO, May 20, 2018 (MENA) - EgyptAir on Sunday started flights to carry Umrah pilgrims to Saudi Arabia during the Ramadan season.
Eighteen regular and additional flights will be operated on Sunday from Cairo airport to Jeddah and Madinah with 3,116 pilgrims on board, said the flag carrier in a press release.
EgyptAir is expected to ferry around 45,000 pilgrims during the Umrah season in the holy fasting month of Ramadan which will end on June 30.
CAIRO, May 4, 2018 (MENA) - Egypt's Immigration and Expatriates Affairs Minister Nabila Makram announced Friday that three weekly direct flights will be operated between Alexandria and Paphos of Cyprus in the coming period.
Giving a word within the framework of the "Roots Revival Week" in Alexandria city, the minister said that the event sent a message of peace to the whole world.
The event is organised by the Immigration and Expatriates Affairs Ministry and the General Federation of Chambers of Commerce.
PARIS, April 18,2018 (AP) — Rail traffic across France and Air France flights were disrupted by strikes Wednesday despite the insistence of French President Emmanuel Macron that protest actions won’t prevent him from making changes to the country’s economy.
Rail workers resumed a strike set to disrupt traffic off-and-on through June. National railway company SNCF says one out of three high-speed trains is running.
The workers are protesting against plans to revoke a special status that allows them to retain jobs and other benefits for life. On Tuesday night, France’s Assembly approved the bill, meant to prepare French rail for competition. The text will now be debated by the Senate.
Meanwhile, Air France crews and ground staff were entering their ninth day of strikes over pay since February. About 30 per cent of flights were cancelled Wednesday.
BERLIN, April 10, 2018 (Reuters) - Thousands of passengers at four German airports, including the biggest hub Frankfurt, were stranded on Tuesday as ground staff and other public sector workers staged walkouts across the country to increase the pressure in a pay dispute.
Lufthansa said on Monday it was cancelling more than 800 of its planned 1,600 flights on Tuesday and Frankfurt airport operator Fraport has warned of disruption.
As well as Frankfurt, airports in Munich, Cologne and Bremen were hit. The industrial action also affected nurseries, rubbish collection services and swimming pools in several German states.
“We want to send a clear signal to employers with these massive strikes,” Frank Bsirske, head of Verdi, Germany’s biggest labour union for service sector employees, said. “We expect an offer to be made for the third round of talks that is worthy of discussion so we can reach a good solution.”
He said the union would escalate the dispute if employers did not present an offer next week. The third round of talks starts on April 15.
Verdi has called for a 6 per cent pay rise for its 2.3 million public sector employees at the federal and local level. Germany’s federal government and municipalities have rejected that, saying such an increase would force them to outsource jobs.
The strikes, which started at 5am (03:00GMT) were due to run until 6pm (16:00GMT) on Tuesday.
Europe’s biggest economy is in robust shape, with record tax revenues and a budget surplus. Rising employment, inflation-busting pay hikes and low borrowing costs are fuelling a consumer-led upswing.
In the industrial sector, 3.9 million workers agreed on a pay and flexible working hours deal in February that amounted to a roughly 4 per cent rise per year for 2018 and 2019. Inflation edged up to 1.5 per cent in March.
The European Central Bank is keeping a close eye on the German wage negotiations for any sign that wage growth is picking up, potentially lifting inflation and allowing the ECB to start winding down its massive stimulus programme.
Neighbouring France has also faced industrial action in the last few weeks in protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s planned reforms.