October 16, 2018 / 12:48 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Ethiopian Airlines to resume flights to Mogadishu next month

(Adds details, background)

By Aaron Maasho

ADDIS ABABA, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Ethiopian Airlines will resume regular flights to Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Nov. 2, its first in four decades, the state-owned carrier said on Tuesday.

One of the biggest carriers in Africa, Ethiopian Airlines suspended its operations in Somalia following the outbreak of hostilities between the neighbours in the late 1970s. Conflict in Somalia which erupted in subsequent decades and continues to the present day has prevented air carriers from returning.

An Islamist militant group has been waging an insurgency in Somalia since 2007.

“Our flights will quickly grow to multiple daily flights given the huge volume of traffic between the two sisterly countries and the significant traffic between Somalia and the rest of the world,” Tewolde GebreMariam, Ethiopian Airlines’ chief executive, said in a statement.

Turkish Airlines is the only other major international carrier that flies to the country.

In June, Ethiopian Airlines resumed flights to the Eritrean capital Asmara after a two-decade hiatus following a dramatic diplomatic thaw between the feuding neighbours.

The carrier is Africa’s largest airline by revenue and profit, according to an industry body, generating $2.7 billion in revenue in the 2017/18 fiscal year.

Since 2013, Ethiopian Airlines has acquired minority stakes in several African carriers to serve as bases for regional operations, including in Malawi Airlines and Zambia’s national airline.

The firm also aims to create a new airline in Mozambique that it will fully own, and is in talks with Chad, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea to set up carriers through joint ventures. (Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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