Ethiopian Airlines to resume flights to Tigray after peace deal

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The peace deal signed in Pretoria and Nairobi has given a new lease of life to the people of northern Ethiopia, following the resumption of critical services which had stalled for the last two years, with Ethiopian Airlines becoming the latest entity to announce plans to resume services.

On Wednesday, the national carrier announced plans to resume flights to Tigray regional administrative capital Mekelle, with Shire town also being the next destination. The airline also announced that it was repairing Axum airport in the region which was badly destroyed.

Mesfin Tassew, the Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, told state media Ethiopian News Agency that the national carrier will start flights to the Tigray region soon following the peace deal between the government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front [TPLF] after one year of suspension.

He said the Mekelle and Shire Airports in the Tigray region are in good condition to be able to accommodate the resumption of flights. Fighting was particularly intense in the Shire following the decision by the Air Force to use drones in recent months in pursuit of the TPLF fighters, which ended up killing civilians.

Axum airport was badly destroyed last year after Eritrean troops stormed the region, causing massive looting of property and the death of civilians. The airport was being used as a strategic point for the delivery of weapons which are said to have been used to promote genocide in the region.

However, the decision to resume flights comes months after TPLF accused the airline of facilitating the Tigray genocide by transporting soldiers and weapons to the region. For the umpteenth time, the national carrier has dismissed the claims, noting that it has never been involved in ear-related activities.

The war started in November 2020 following political disagreements between the Tigray People's Liberation Front and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The peace deal signed in Nairobi has been hailed by both parties as "historic" with promotors now calling for immediate implementation.

Already, the United States has warned parties that might be tempted to frustrate implementation of the deal, noting that those responsible will have sanctions imposed on them. The TPLF wants Eritrean troops to immediately withdraw and disengage from Tigray before any meaningful implementation is executed.

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