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Ethiopian Airlines to start flights to Somaliland

Ethiopian Airlines (EAL) has announced it is to start scheduled commercial flights to Hargeisa, the main city in the self-proclaimed independent state of Somaliland in northwestern Somalia.

The announcement on Monday follows an appeal by the head of the region, Mohamed Ibrahim Egal, when he visited Addis Ababa in November, asking Ethiopian authorities to introduce flights to Hargeisa and the port city of Berbera.

Since the beginning of the war with Eritrea, Ethiopia has used the port of Djibouti and -- to a lesser extent -- Berbera for conducting external trade. Somaliland remains unrecognised by the international community 10 years after it split from the rest of Somalia after the fall of president Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991.

The region's authorities continue to deny the legitimacy of the head of Somalia's national government of transition Abdoulkassim Salat Hassan -- elected in August.

The move also follows an agreement between Ethiopia and Somaliland to open a subsidiary of the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia in Hargeisa and an office of the Ethiopian national sea carrier in the self-proclaimed independent state.

The EAL flights will be twice weekly, the company announced.


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