| Issue 373
and Regional Affairs |
By Muluken Yewondwossen
Addis Ababa, March 21, 2009 – The resumption of Ethiopian's
flight to Hargeysa, Somaliland has been delayed.
The route to the capital of the semi-autonomous region in northern
Somalia was scheduled to re-open in January 2009, after it was suspended
in November 2008 following the five suicide bomb attacks on buildings
occupied by the government and international agencies.
Leul T. Medhin, Acting Public Relation head of Ethiopian, told Capital
the security threat has not yet diminished enough for Ethiopia's
national carrier to resume the flight.
Ethiopian is the only large airline which continued to fly to Hargeysa
following the collapse of the last stable Somalian government, which was
led by Mohamed Siyad Barre, in 1991.
However, Capital has learnt that Ethiopian is assessing the possibility
of flights to Berbera airport instead of Hargeysa.
According to sources from Hargeysa, terrorist attacks are still a major
threat in the region.
"We can not say when exactly the flight to Hargeysa will commence," Leul
According to the source, Berbera's coastal airport is in good condition
for big aircrafts to land on, but needs some minor repair work. "This
port will be a good solution for passengers and Ethiopian," sources
The airport has a 4,140m runway - one of the longest in Africa. This was
built in 1974 by the Soviet Union, when Somalia was its ally, in order
to counter the US military presence in the region during the Cold War.
The direct Ethiopian flights to Somaliland were popular amongst former
residents, international agencies and khat exporter. Travelers who came
from North America and Europe were using Ethiopian's direct flight.
Currently, it takes them four days to travel to Hargeysa and other towns
in the region.
Ethiopian generated 1.3 million dollars from the route last year.
Now, passengers heading to Hargeysa and other Somali regions have to
travel to Djibouti and use a small private aviation company called
Daallo. The connection costs travelers on average an extra 2,000 birr.
Explosions occurred five month ago at the presidential palace,
government security posts, United Nations (UN) offices and an Ethiopian
consular unit in both Somaliland and Bossaso, capital of Puntland.
Compared to the rest of Somalia, the two semi-autonomous regions are
In the port of Bosasso, two huge blasts rocked the city as suicide
bombers attacked two offices of the Puntland security forces, killing a
woman cleaner and injuring six soldiers, residents and officials said.
At least 20 people were killed and more than 30 others injured in the
attacks in Hargeysa, according to officials and witnesses. International
media quoted witnesses saying the death toll from the two attacks
totaled 28, and that at least 20 of the deaths occurred at the Ethiopian
office in Hargeysa.
Source: The Capital