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Eritrean Airlines: An Eritrean Story

If there is one entity that symbolizes Eritrea, it must be Eritrean Airlines. It is its metaphor for something that one has much expectation for but one that repeatedly, continuously and predictably fails because it never learns from its failures.

Like a flag, an airline is a symbol: it stands for some kind of autonomous statehood. Thus, right after independence, in 1991, Eritreans saw the emergence of “Eritrean Airlines” as a sign of independence. Autonomy. Just like Eritreans welcomed the raising of the Eritrean flag at the UN, they welcomed the sight of a plane with the words “Eritrean” inscribed on its body. Eritreans took pictures of it at the tarmac of Asmara Airport. It was hope of better days to come. Hopes dashed in a series of misadventures: of lessons never learned.

The first one, “The Airline Company”, was a privately-held company owned by three Eritreans: Nessredin Ibrahim, Habib Kebire and a third silent partner. It was launched in 1992 soon after Eritrean independence. It was a squadron of one. It used Romanian chartered planes and crew. The airline, which changed its name to Eritrean Airlines to comply with Eritrean Civic Aviation Authority (ECAA) requirements, had limited runs, mostly to Massawa, Asab, Saudi Arabia and Sudan. The Airline Company discontinued when, in the summer of 1994, the captain, a Romanian, flew the plane home and wouldn’t return, leaving passengers stranded.

The second one, which was known as “Red Sea Airlines“, was launched after Abraha Ghermazion (where is he now?) was named ECAA manager in 1995. The goal was to take over the lucrative routes of Lufthansa and Ethiopian Airlines which were carrying thousands of Eritrean passengers every year. Abraha Ghermazion was replaced by Stifanos Afwerki who, in turn, was replaced by Paulos Kahsay. Red Sea Airlines ceased operations in 1998, following the ignition of the Eritrea-Ethiopia war. After a two year lull, Red Sea Airlines attempted a comeback in a venture between a wealthy Saudi banker (Bin Mahfouz) and the PFDJ’s Red Sea Trading Corporation. Aynom Mebrahtu was named director of the ill-fated venture, which shut down in 2002.

The third one, named “Queen Bee” was launched in April of 2003. Many Eritreans remember Queen Bee and the fanfare when it was launched. Leasing a couple of used Boeings and Airbuses, Queen Bee announced routes to Frankfurt, Rome, Milan, Nairobi, Djibouti and Dubai. The Queen Bee had an Eritrean crew—pilot, first officer and flight attendants pulled off from the Intercontinental Hotel in Asmara. Queen Bee was described as yet another example of “self-reliance.” Given the ruling regime’s poor financial management skills, and its focus on using the airline as a political vehicle to transport Eritreans during the tourist season, the airline was operating at a loss until it was shut down in 2008.

Then came Nasair, supposedly a private company, which was launched to provide service between Asmara and Massawa, in addition to limited flights to several regional airports including Jeddah and Dubai. It was shut down in the summer of 2010.

Then came Eritrean Airways. More accurately, Pakistani Airways. Under the terms, Eritrean Airways would run as an independent private company whose management reports to a Board of Directors. The ticket office would not receive stamped order papers to issue tickets to the employees of the regime and their families. The Eritrean regime would have to buy its tickets like any other customer. But the ruling regime is not used to paying for services from providers which it owns, and it is not familiar at all with the rigors of audited financial statements or parliamentary oversight over its operations, so skepticism had been the natural reaction.

The Pakistani management team recommended that Eritrean Airlines cease long haul routes and instead to concentrate on routes to and from the Middle Eastern and African countries that are close to Eritrea and within a four-hour flight range. This would mean replacing its fleet of Boeing 767 and a McDonnell-Douglas (MD-83) with smaller aircrafts—four small planes were expected to be purchased or leased. Pakistan and Qatar would provide the consultancy and financing and the Eritrean regime would campaign the Diaspora Eritreans to buy shares of the new Eritrean Airlines. This is because the Diaspora Eritreans who consider the ruling regime an investment of sorts have been reliable when it comes to throwing good money after bad. Negotiations were also underway to have Emirate Airlines and Qatar to provide connection flight to and from Asmara for travelers from the rest of the world.

All came crashing down. One after another.

In October of last year, Lufthansa stopped its flights to Asmara, Eritrea. Sources affiliated to the ruling party in Eritrea stated that flights would resume in November of last year and explained that the reason for the stoppage of flights was a temporary hiccup. Lufthansa, which operated three flights per week to Asmara, was popular particularly among the Diaspora Eritreans who travel home in large numbers. Certainly, Lufthansa would not abandon its lucrative itinerary that it had run almost as a monopoly. But last October it did. Five months into its cancellation of flights to Asmara, the information that Lufthansa would resume its flights “pending the signing of a new air traffic agreement between Germany and the African state,” has not materialized. Why?

Now, the only outlet for travelers to and from Eritrea is the ailing Sudan Airways which has limited flights around the world.

On March of 2013, the Eritrean government announced an agreement with Sudan Airways to enable the non-existent EAL to operate “some flights on behalf of Sudan Airways out of Khartoum.” According to news reports, the agreement looked “like a codeshare agreement to enable them fly to destinations that currently operated by Sudan Airways by making use of Eritrean Airlines.” But flights to and from Eritrea remained inefficient and cumbersome.

The PFDJ-cheering websites moved on to the flavor-of-the-week: this time, it was Turkish Airlines!  It was going to fly to Asmara beginning on…. well, SOON!

In December 2013, an Eritrean government affiliated website announced, “Nova Airways (O9), Sudan’s second largest carrier, began flights to Asmara today, ahead of Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airlines who have announced to make similar moves in the coming months.” It further announced that “Nova Airways fleet operates with one Boeing 737-500 and four Bombardier CRJ200ER aircrafts.”  In Asmara, the CRJ 200 Nova aircraft was received with much fanfare, and “Eritrean Minister of Tourism, Ms. Askalu Menkerios, inaugurated the launching of the direct flights to and from Asmara – Khartoum – Juba, as well as Kassala city.”

Despite the hyperbole, the state-owned Sudan Airways is so small Nova’s website indicates that the airline operates only one CRJ 200 and two helicopters.

It is common for passengers to lose their money in the confusion when they discover their tickets are not honored by the ever changing Airline agreements. EAL operates its only asset, an old Boeing 767-200ER. Several leased airplanes often operate out of Asmara only to disappear shortly afterwards. Because of safety concerns, none of the European countries will allow EAL to land in any airport in Europe.

It is possible that Lufthansa, Turkish Airways or other Airlines could begin flights to Asmara; but given the record of the Eritrean Government, and its non-existent EAL, Eritrea is not expected to have an effective and efficient air connection with the rest of the world.

When an Ethiopian Airlines co-pilot hijacked his plane to Geneva to ask for asylum, a journalist for the Los Angeles Times took the occasion to address his experience with the Airline. He writes: “The key to the aircraft’s success was that, despite being a government-owned company, it hewed to capitalist standards of profit and loss. That was true during the regime of Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, which ended in 1991, and during his rebel successor, Meles Zenawi, who died in 2012. These governments plainly understood that a smoothly-functioning international airline was a magnet for desperately needed foreign exchange. That seems obvious, but it was a rule flagrantly violated by many other foreign regimes….”

The Isaias Afwerki regime is one of those who do not get it, and cannot get it. A successful airline requires a competent General Manager, an independent board, a commitment to excellence with a focus on the bottom line. In the autocratic system of Eritrea, where Isaias Afwerki is most threatened by independent institutions, independent institutions and managers who excel at their jobs, this is impossible and so the saga of Eritrean Airlines will continue to be the saga of Eritrea: great potential continuously sabotaged by a petty tyrant.

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  • Fnote Selam

    Selam n Kulukhum,

    I thought this article is well written and describes the Eritrean situation pretty well. I have come across this picture which I think makes a good companion to the article and want to share it.

    Best,

    Fnote S.

  • koboro

    Saay7,
    Thanks for the clarification. I think this is the first documentary article which has to be archived for our future reference. Thank you AT for the wonderful article. Please keep it up writing this kind of articles if you can on other sectors our future generation will benefit enormously from such kind of materials. I will keep this article as a record in my private archive files.

  • Koboro

    Was there a man name by Capitan Asres who was a veteran and retired employee of Ethiopian Air lines and was working at Eritrean Air Lines for some time. I never read about this man in this article. I think he was frustrated by the meddling of PFDJ’s officials in the management of the Airlines and quit his voluntary unpaid job. Do you have any idea about this Awate Team?

    • saay7

      Selamat Koboro:

      Captain Asres was the general manager of Eritrean Airlines when Queen Bee was launched. He was, arguably, EA’s most ambitious general manager. He actually envisioned Eritrean Airlines having a decent cargo fleet to transport raw materials to Europe (most likely, he was referring to minerals.) He envisioned (this is from his statement of 2003 just before Queen Bee’s maiden voyage):

      “Eritrea is a Natural for Aviation. Our plans are not limited to just flying two airplanes up and down the Route. We are determined to create a trained Work Force which will strengthen our ability to compete. Within two months one of the most advanced Aviation schools will open its’ doors to sixty young men and women who are already graduates of well organized technical schools, who will join us to become Aircraft Engineers. They will be trained to International Standards and will have FAA or equivalent matriculation. The Pilot training school will also start with a modest number of students. University Graduates will join us as Management Trainees. I am also inviting Eritreans with Engineering, Marketing and Management training to join us. Our strength is our determination to develop our human resources. We firmly believe that we have what it takes not material resources but the development of our Human resources. This will be the focus of this effort.”

      Well, people like Captain Asres do not survive in Eritrea which has an unwritten but strictly enforced ruled: Only One Alpha Male Allowed.

      saay

  • Seare

    An excellent article. I really appreciate Awate Team for bringing such issues up!

  • Ermias

    Thank you AT for the wonderful aritcle. This was a great read and I appreciate the time you guys took to research this specific issue and present it to us.

    Sad state of affairs – I know two families right at the moment with a family member (a parent in each case) who passed away in the last few days or so. Both bodies need to go back to Eritrea. I would not want to wish even the worst evil people (PFDJ leaders like Monkey) to be in this situation because they are looking into three to four weeks before the bodies can make it there. Yemen airlines would not take bodies at ‘the moment.’ I know they did in the fall, however. Can you imagine being back in Eritrea with your family in grief and you don’t have the body of your loved one to bury and you are counting hour after hour? That has to be excruciating.

    This is how much pain and agony IA and his disciples are pouring onto our people by being cruel and inhumane. If you can’t negotiate with a world class and exemplary company as in Lufthansa, then your existence cannot be justified.

    Word on the street is that IA wants to continue to pay Lufthansa in Nakfa but Lufthansa has way too much Nakfa and they don’t know what to do with it. Go figure.

    • haile

      Selamat Ermias,

      Airline business, although highly volatile, does indeed become very essential for normal functioning of a country. Out regime is a failure in all aspects and has long been beyond any hope to do any better. What you said about “word in the street” is actually the REAL reason for cessation of Lufthansa services from Eritrean destinations. The non-convertible ERN Nakfa that the airliner had accumulated had long been a problem. It is only recently that they wanted to fix PFDJ through revised agreement in that regard, and the latter balked.

      The actual “words in the street” that the PFDJ propagated through 03 to confuse the gullible was one of “disagreement over checking diplomatic pouches” (sometimes modified as “Lufthansa refused to carry diplomatic pouches”) or the other, which is that of “Lutanist has refused to transport human remains cargo for traditional burial (what ever that may mean – traditional?) The PFDJ had been in serious trouble over the non-convertible currency issue for many years now. Just as this one would have a cascading effect of hampering or rendering expensive other related activities, many other things would start to blow soon. Unless IA can do super human somersaults to correct the “past-critical” stage of an economy to spiral down in real scenarios (not the mining projections) he is trapped.

      Regards

  • An enlightening piece; Awate.com at its best.

  • Nitricc

    Asmerom
    is Asmerom is a common name in Tigray or you just got that to fit the site?
    Personally i rather steal and commit extortion than beg. I am not kidding.

    • Asmerom

      Nitricc
      You are lost and I feel sorry for you Asmerom is our traditional name and much better than a weird name Nitricc
      And no surprise here for you choosing theft and extortion cause you no nothing better than that when you sell your mind and soul to your mafia dictator . Being a part of Higdef is your pride and enjoy it ..

  • said

    According to The Financial Times of London article To understand the sheer might of Emirates Airline, you have to go to its Dubai hub at midnight. Between 10pm and 1am, Emirates’ airliners rain down on Dubai
    International airport – 90 land during this frenetic three-hour period, flying
    in mainly from Asia, Europe and elsewhere in the Middle East. These long-range
    aircraft – Emirates is the world’s largest operator of the Airbus A380
    superjumbo and Boeing 777 jet – are then rapidly prepared for their next
    flights. About 60 jets roar out of Dubai between 2am and 4am. The waves of
    aircraft highlight how Emirates’ Terminal 3 at Dubai International has become a
    hub for millions of passengers criss-crossing the world. Rush hour happens in
    the middle of the night as bleary-eyed passengers spend a few hours in the
    airport’s duty free shopping malls between their incoming and outgoing flights.

    Emirates one of the best airlines because of the service and the
    staff … very courteous and hospitable,”

    Fiercely competitive pricing, polite service and the ability to operate around the clock from its Dubai hub help explain how Emirates has
    become one of the most powerful forces in global aviation. Founded in 1985,
    Emirates has assembled the largest fleet of long-range, wide-body passenger
    jets in the world – 196 in total. And mainly thanks to Emirates, Dubai is on
    course to replace London’s Heathrow airport as the world’s largest hub by
    international passengers in 2015. Night flying is heavily restricted at
    Heathrow.

    Emirates is one of three fast-growing. Emirates is proposing to buy 150 of these more fuel-efficient 777X jets in a deal that should become the US manufacturer’s biggest single commercial aircraft order, worth $55.6bn at
    catalogue price. Dubai did not have the large oil reserves of neighbouring Abu Dhabi, and Sheikh Rashid focused on infrastructure projects, including the construction of Dubai International, that could support the emirate’s position
    as a modern-day centre for trade and tourism.

    But Emirates Airline was the brainchild of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, third son of Sheikh Rashid and now Dubai’s ruler, according to Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, the carrier’s chairman. It was very clear
    from day one – his highness gave the management of Emirates Airline the freedom
    of expanding the business … as long as they do not go to the government for
    any guarantee or any finance,” he adds.
    Dubai’s airport infrastructure, which is struggling to keep up with the airline’s expansion.
    Sheikh Ahmed can see a case for Emirates more than doubling its
    fleet to as many as 450 aircraft (the airline has placed orders with Airbus and
    Boeing for 385 jets, although many of these will replace ageing planes,
    including the A340s).

    But Mr Clark says the airline will not be able to operate more
    than 260 jets at Dubai International because it is getting full. It hosts 140
    airlines, including Flydubai, the emirate’s fast-growing short-haul carrier.

    by 2020, when it could be dealing with 100m passengers a year.

  • Horizon

    Sometime ago, there was a person who liked to call Ethiopia “the beggar nation” in almost every comment he posted. He does not seem to be around anymore. One could understand his frustrations, and one would pity him, because he was suffering from an obsession.

    The Eritrean regime’s self-reliance is nothing else but enslavement of Eritreans; theft and exploitation of their
    labor and dehumanization of this proud people. This is the reason why more than 300K young Eritreans were forced to flee their country, and unfortunately, the regime and its supporters continue to sing this cacophony, (self-reliance forever). A rational person can never be proud of a bogus self-reliance in an
    interdependent world.

    If I may say few words on gay-rights; can anybody speak of gay-rights in a country like Eritrea where basic human rights are non-existent? Many of us do not like this difference in sexual preferences; but under no circumstances do we have the right to kill, imprison or punish them in any way. Nobody can create a gay-less world. History tells us that the Romans and others practiced it, it has existed throughout human history, and it will continue to exist. The big dilemma today is not whether gay people have the right to be gay, but if gay couples could be allowed to go the extra mile and adopt children, because some have already started demanding for this right. Personally, I am against this; and I would
    like to say that they should wait until intra-peritoneal pregnancy in men becomes a possibility in the future. (Remember Arnold Schwarzenegger’s
    film).

    • ethiopia

      sometime ago, i heard u said u r from north shewa that means wayane hate u the most than other ethiopian or east african ( wayane said that unofficialy). regards what ZENEBU’S tweet is nothing to do with the gay right since ethiopia punish gays upto 15 years, it is about south sudan and uganda’s involvement in south sudan.

      • Horizon

        I would say that I am from the center, any
        way, somewhere there, not really important. Genetically, I have concoction of genes, as most Ethiopians; again not important in the least. After all, who said that genes are everything, genes I do not know where they came from and where they would be going in the future? What about the environment in which I grew up?

        It is not important if Woyane love or hate other Ethiopians. I would advise them to love all Ethiopians for their own good, than anybody else’s. You must know better than I do, the adage, “ጨው ለራስህ ስትል ጣፍጥ፤ አለበለዚያ ድንጋይ ተብለህ ትጣላለህ።” This is the advice I would have given to Woyanes or any other group, if I could.

        I know that there is the same discrimination
        and the law must be harsh against gay people in Ethiopia, as in many African countries. I was simply talking about human rights, nothing else. If Zenebu Tadesse’s tweet represents her personal opinion, as opposed to her government’s, one should support her for the courage she showed to come out and speak, when a group of people are targeted, simply because they have a different preference. If there is politics behind the scene, as you said, I can not be sure, and I leave it there.

        • ethiopia

          what am saying is save yourself before even try to save eritrea. when there is a group (wayane) driven by inferiority complex in power in ethiopia it is impossible to talk about cooperation and peace in that part of the world.
          there is nothing called gay right they better call it confusion right or a right to destroy someones culture and religion.

        • ethiopia

          what am saying, first save yourself from wayane and than u will be able to talk about peace and cooperation with eritrea. as long as wayane with it’s inferiority complex rule ethiopia i don’t see peace and cooperation in that part of Africa.
          gay right is nothing but other way of confusion right or the right to destroy someone’s culture and religions .

      • Nitricc

        Deleted DUP

  • haile

    Selamat Awatista,

    Here is a riddle for the overt and covert PFDJites:

    – They like to believe that since IA was chairman of EPLF, he ALONE realized Eritrean independence.

    – Now why do they find it difficult to follow through their logic and conclude that since IA is the ONLY DICTATOR Eritrea had throughout the last two and half decades, he ALONE is to blame for the demise of Eritrea as we once new it (dergue would beat him hands down).

    ህግደፍ ኣብቂዑ እዩ። ኣብ ናይ 59 ደቂቕ ህሞት እዩ ኣትዩ ዘሎ። Do you hear me saay?

    Regards

  • Nitricc

    http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2014-02-25-ZenebuTadesse-thumb.jpg

    I rather have no air liner than no political freedom what so ever. The other day Obama was harassing Ugandan president for passing anti guy law. Guess what; the walking dead weyane must show support to their master; Obama. No offence Ethiopians but here is where we differ like day and night. You guys beg; we said self reliance. We speak our mind; you must say and support what ever the white men have to say. Now; read what this woman has tweeted. Why?

    • Asmerom

      Dear Niticc
      I wonder for how long you are going to be a slave of this mafia government ?? Don’t you understand begging is much better than stealing what your good for nothing government is doing . If you are proud of extortion stealing and being Wedi shuke in the modern world have it your way and enjoy it . You should be ashamed talking about begging while your Mafia government can’t even fed his troops ..

    • ethiopia

      wayane is trying to take over Uganda’s business (1.2 billion dollar per year) in south sudan that is what she is talking about as the matter of fact Ethiopia law punish gays up to 15 years.

      • Nitricc

        Ethiopia, you said ” since ethiopia punish gays upto 15 years”
        I thought TPLF was forced to open gay conference in Addis a couple years ago after USA and UK threaten to cut Aid. That is what I am talking about. TPLF people they don’t eat their lunch with out the permeation of the US or UK let alone to decide any political deal at will. They can not. Their entire existence based on beg, bend and deceit. Can you imagine the US to threaten Eritrea on the same manner? Eritrea will tell to US or anyone else to hell. That kind of political freedom is what you call worthy flying of your flag.

        • ethiopia

          the tweet and the open gay conference r nothing to do with gays. they r part of tplf begging diplomacy. as the matter of fact tplf is willing to pimp small boys to get AID from the west. they sold millions to middle east and the west by the name of adoption and migrant workers. i agree with u anyways.

  • Kokhob Selam

    Just simple to see, how much PFDJ is poor in managing. you don’t need to open other files and stories to know those guys are not fit to lead even small establishment leave alone a new country and in this modern era. leading a county is not leading fighters who fully obey without question to free a nation as that is just the only target they had. in fighting for freedom, people don’t care who is on top as he has just to do few things but all the job is done by the honest fighter for freedom, the men on the top were maximum doing the dirty job of killing heroes in Kesela or Khartoum and fanning some useless differences of heroes. seemingly mafia type movements were recorded in history but most of them were vanished by their own master recently leaving power to DIA. Eritrea needs people armed with high knowledge and wisdom to coup the world new developments. so far, people were in confusion but things are clear as you can see form this story of airlines.

  • Kaddis

    Kaddis here.
    A lot African nations do not operate national carriers and given the fierce competition we will see a lot of them leaving the market unless they invest continuously. Ethiopian airlines should also look inside how it treats and benefits its staff given the recent hijacking. There is a lot of pressure and frustration as the Airline is growing fast.
    Ugandan president was rumoured saying he wished he had a national carrier to bring the last Olympic marathon winner home who came using British Airways. African Airlines cover not more than 25% of African air traffic. So take it easy: its hard to talk about a national carrier when Eritrea is struggling to keep a national football team 🙂

    • Eyob Medhane

      Kaddis

      I agree with you that Ethiopian airlines has some HR problems. However, the recent hijacking has very little to do with that. From several interviews that has been heard for the last week from his relatives, the co pilot seems to have exhibited clear signs of schizophrenia. I wouldn’t be surprised, if the charges are dropped in the coming weeks on that account. Having said that, Ethiopian airlines recent acquisition of Malawi airlines and it’s other subsidiary ASKY based in Lome, Togo might be proved to be too much to handle. I wish they ease up a bit on this acquisition business and focus, as you suggest inward for a little while,

      • Kaddis

        Hi Eyob,
        I also share your view regarding the pilots health status; but I have a feeling the work environment might have contributed to his illness somehow ….not everyone handles pressure and working extended hours… we all judge pilots ( in general ) drink and party a lot here and there but we never took the time to look closer how they work and what are thier real demands other than pay ( which sounds competitive locally and in relative terms )…

      • Amused

        Schizophrenia is not an infection. You don’t suddenly become schizophrenic overnight or in a matter of weeks. Plus, in a way, it is a spectrum. Even assuming he is schizophrenic, he may be slightly or moderately schizo which means he can function perfectly well in society.

        Another point: Pilots and airline crews go through rigorous health inspections every 3 months, according to the pilot on VOA…a former EAL employee (unless the Woyanes did away with that). So the airline would or should have been aware of his condition. If they were aware of his condition but let him fly anyway, putting thousands of people’s lives at risk, why isn’t the airline being held accountable? But more than likely, this whole mental issue is a ploy by the Woyanes to tear at the guys credibility, or his defense team to pass him off as mentally incompetent to avoid legal charges. Soon enough, the guy will start giving out interviews so I guess we’ll just have to wait.

    • Nitricc

      “Eritrea is struggling to keep a national football team :-)”
      Kaddis, lol
      That is funny. The football players never won, they lose like 6 to nothing something crazy like that. So, I am not sure if I wanted them back. They suck. But have you ever thought why a single cyclist defected and they always win? So, I think the football players are embarrassed to show their face to go back home. I mean, if I was one of them I won’t go home either. How do you lose every freaking match? They suck.
      So, take it easy on the idea of why the losers keep disappearing and never went back home.
      Ethiopia is way a head of; not only Eritrea but I will say; Ethiopia has one of the best in Africa, if not the best. In fact give Eritrea a credit for trying. It is a tough business which Eritrea and her leaders are no capable of handling.

      • Solomon Gebremeskel

        Thanks Nitricc, first time i see you write some thing positive about Ethiopia. keep it on.

  • xxx

    Hi Awate Team,

    cry baby cry.
    U r also crying and crying starting long time ago. u r jealous against the ethiopian ppl and his rulers.
    Working with no ethik and moral. And workin mostly in awraja level.

    Wakeup Awate (As long as u use the name of awate, u r not better than IA.)

    Keep on ……

  • Gebrielle hadish

    Good read. Eritrean Airlines is the face of the disgusting regime not Eritrean History. Eritrean History in the airline business can be found in the archives of Ethiopian Airlines…

    • Samson Tesfa

      Gebriel Hadish,
      Please stop the “choose and pick”.
      The only available history in the Ethiopian Airlines Archives is about Ethiopian from Eritrea region, not from the State of Eritrea.
      As a result, there is NO Eritrean history in Ethiopia after 1993 !!!

      SUCCESS HAS THOUSANDS FATHER BUT FAILURE IS AN ORPHAN.

      Cheers,

  • Abinet

    I see EAL as a subsidiary to ethiopian AL in the future . Of course ,after normalization .may be I am just dreaming

    • Eyob Medhane

      Abnet,

      Actually that makes a perfect business sense. Ethiopian Airlines is running around African countries acquiring shares and starting regional airlines’ like ASKY. It would be great to make Asmara a hub to fly to the middle and near east. It would be much cheaper, as Ethiopian airlines is a sole agent for maintenance for bombardier air crafts in subsaharan Africa. Using those planes, it could cover a lot of areas cheaper than many of foreign airlines charge for even very short distance. With the profits, more airports can be built and expanded in Massawa, Assab, particularly to cover the Red Sea and Indian Ocean vacation spots with those bombardier planes, which ET seems to have and plan to acquire quite a few of. The island state of the Comoros are working out a such kind of deal with Ethiopia to develop its islands as vacation destination using Ethiopian Airlines bombardiers. Eritrea would have been more favorable given the cultural and linguistic relations of the two people to capitalize on such kinds of ventures. So your dream makes a lot of sense…

      • Dawit

        ድሕሪ ሰለፋ እንታይ ተረፋ

        Eyob,

        Your business model may inadvertently lead to a strange acquisition: buying Eritrea in its entirety. First Ethiopian airlines will acquire Eritrean airlines, and make Asmara a hub and develop Massawa and Assab airlines to accommodate the expanding tourism business. Later Ethiopian business men will buy shares in Bisha Gold mining, owning more than 50% of outstanding shares of the company thereby enabling them to have an iron grip on the fortunes of the company. Today, Ethipian business men may crawl, tomorrow they may run all businesses in Eritrea. It’s scary: what you can’t get by force, you get it though other means.

        Just a wild thought. 😉

        • haile

          Dawit

          ….”Lets keep Eritrea as a hermit kingdom”…..wa’E anta entay gebernaka wedey!

          Eyob,

          That is a very good economic model. In fact, once we in Eritrea clean our house, i.e. physically take out IA and his few friends soon, I see similar models of economic collaboration in many other sectors. Construction and Energy sectors are few to mention. Our people are slowly waking up to the fact that it is better to get up, take what is yours and be in good charge of it than sleeping rough in the streets of Israel, dying in refugee camps, deserts and high seas. I have bego ye’Qnat menfes (as they say yemayQe’na ayweled) as regards the economic achievements of Ethiopia.

          A food for thought is that “we reap MORE than we sow” because seed multiply. Those who put their time to good use would be blessed in abundance and those who use their time to create problems and oppress others would cursed in many fold.

          Regards

          • Kim Hanna

            Dear Abinet, Eyob and Haile.
            I have another dream. Let us not bite too much we cannot swallow.
            What about this for confidence building.
            Ethiopian Air Lines has flights to London now 5 times a week. It has similar direct flights to U.S.
            Why not support or encourage the idea of one of those flights, say the Wednesday Flight to take off from Addis and land in Asmara for an hour or so to pick up passengers and continue on its flight. Let the same plane do the reverse as well. I am sure there are a lot issues that will come up (leave the major one aside) and it must be dealt with preferably by the Airline based on business and security matters
            The only action needed here is for P.M Hailemariam to offer and President IA to accept. The rest is like a hot knife in a butter. (Now who among us will be willing to hang this idea of a bell on the cats)
            I think that Abinet’s idea/dream of a ” subsidiary” is a stink bomb in the room. There are a lot of ultra, forget ultra, moderate Eritrean nationalists who would look at that as punch in the stomach. Why create pain, ache and unnecessary obstacle even before the project start???
            This project opens a lot of doors 20,000-30,000 feet in the sky. Can you imagine a plane full of Ethiopians and Eritreans of various professions for 20 hours together, I mean really together!!!
            KH

          • Abinet

            Kim,
            That is a very long flight .let us try Addis to Asmara first and see how it goes .
            Kim, with all due respect , yours is not a dream . We have already lived it . If I remember correctly the route was like Addis–Asmara– DC and it was working fine until the war. I hope things will get better keep dreaming

          • Zolam

            Dear Awate team,
            I thank you for the well written report on the history of Eritrean airlines, though a sadly history of failure. More, the comments exhibit amongest the rare areas where positive thoughts are reflected from people across the Mereb. They really positively impacted my day. I am particularly impressed by Kims proposal, of course not losing sight of security challenges and DIA’s + cohorts’ super ego. Who knows, the business actors may lead the much needed normalization process,
            Regards from Ethiopia

          • Horizon

            The thing that is being missed is the good will, and not the resources or the education necessary to take our people out of poverty and misery. The wrong choice and priorities taken by the elites, and worst of all, persisting on this erroneous course, is destroying Eritrea and negatively affecting Ethiopia.

            After more than twenty years, when one would expect that DIA would reconsider the situation, unfortunately, he has declared openly that no peaceful change will be coming to Eritrea, as long as he is in power. My way or the highway, shows a deranged and dangerous mind. It
            is as if he has locked the door of a house and thrown away the key, so that nobody would come in or go out. God forbid.

            As time passes, the economy of both countries will be diverging from each other, and this could put Eritrea in a disadvantageous position, unless both countries embark on an economic
            cooperation as soon as possible. As long as DIA is in power, I think that there is no chance for that to happen, until he finds himself in a real difficult situation. Therefore, the quicker this man and his cohorts go, the better for both people.

        • Dawit

          Haile,

          My comment was meant to be a satire on Eyob’s comment. I purposefully exaggerated, stretched what appeared to be Eyob’s Airlines business model to invoke debate otherwise shine a light on the subject. I apologize if feelings are hurt.

          I am all for economic ( and political) integration between Ethiopia and Eritrea. (Hayat Adam agrees with me on this). Political elites should not conceive or fashion the future of both brotherly countries whose future economic and political relationships will reflect the historical and cultural ties that have existed for generations .

          • Eyob Medhane

            Dawit,

            Your satire has not lost on me. Haile just didn’t get it..Don’t worry. We’ll knock some sense out of him.

            About future business prospects of Eritreans and Ethiopians in each other’s countries, though, I will tell you something that a bit discouraged me. I have met some really successful Eritreans in Ethiopia. However, they just seem to be keeping themselves very far away from politics of Eritrea and Ethiopia. They appear very coy and shy to even discuss humanitarian assistance to refugees, because they believe it could be misconstrued as politics that collide them with powerful forces in Eritrea or Ethiopia. They very much prefer to keep their head down and lay low. That doesn’t help much. I hope through time things may change. But for now….not so much…

          • haile

            ሰላም ዳዊት

            ኣይተርድኣንን ነይርሩ….ሒዘካ’ለኹ ሕጂ። ብዝኾነ እዋኑ ዘመነ ትኽ ብትኽ፡ ዝሓዝካ ሒዝካ’ርክብ እንድዩ፡ ብእኡ’የ ናብ ክትትል ኣድሂበ። ነገሩ እቲ ቁርዲድ ሎምዘበን ክትሓዝ’ዩ፡ ተስፋ ገይርና’ሎና፡ እተን ራእይ ኩልና ዝኾና ሰላም፡ ራህዋን ቅሳነትን፡ ኣብ ሰማያት ጎዶቦና። ይዝምብያ’የን ዘለዋ፣ ከምኡ’ዩ ዘሎ እቲ ወረ፡ እቲ ወረ…. በል ሓዝ እዛ ሓዳስ ደርፊ ዓርኩ…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F89-jxg_u9g&feature=share

      • Abinet

        Eyob
        You remember the ethiopian Airlines moto”Bringing Africa Together ?” I hope it will bring Asmara from the cold.

  • bruck

    Ethiopian airlines 60 planes, 80 passenger destinations 17 cargo destinations and 100 million dollar profit 2012 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethiopian_Airlines