1st commercial flight goes from Ethiopia to ex-rival…

Ethiopia Resumes Commercial Flights to Eritrea

Eritrea's president, Isaias Afwerki made a historic visit to Ethiopia last week.

The airline - which operates Africa's biggest fleet - stands to save millions of dollars a year by using Eritrean airspace instead of taking circuitous routes to some Middle East destinations, Tewolde told Reuters. Isaias later flew home, he said.

Ethiopia and Eritrea also resumed commercial airline flights for the first time in two decades, marking the latest phase in a whirlwind peace process between the former foes.

More than 400 passengers boarded two Ethiopian Airlines planes in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, many of them waving the countries' flags and wearing T-Shirts with slogans celebrating the rapprochement. Ethiopian Airlines on Tuesday said it would buy a 20 percent stake in Eritrean Airlines. "When we say we have reconciled, we mean we have chosen a path of forgiveness and love", Abiy told concertgoers.

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. He was also handed a horse and a camel as gifts - national symbols in the two countries.

- Ethiopian Airlines (@flyethiopian) July 17, 2018The bird of peace has just flown to #Asmara!

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.

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"I knew one day it would happen", Hailemariam said of the peace with Eritrea.

Eritrea won independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after years of armed struggle dating back to the 1960s and the two nations fought again from 1998-2000 in a brutal war that left hundreds of thousands dead on both sides.

Surafel Demissie, an Ethiopian priest whose parents died during his childhood, had never been to Eritrea - the country of his mother's birth - nor met any family members.

"This is a historic day for all of us", President Isaias Afwerki said.

Last week, government spokesman Ahmed Shide said landlocked Ethiopia wants to make the reopening of two critical roads leading to the Red Sea ports of Assab in Eritrea's south and Massawa in the north a priority.

In a tweet Eritrea's information minister, Yemane Meskel described the reopening of the embassy as "yet another milestone in the robust and special ties of peace and friendship both countries are cultivating with earnestness in these momentous times".

Since the end of the war, Isaias has used the threat of Ethiopian aggression to justify repressive policies, including an indefinite national service programme the United Nations has likened to slavery.

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