Anger in Abu Dhabi over Ethiopian refusal to let flag carrier commence flights

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(eTN) – A regular Gulf aviation source has let it drop that anger is boiling over in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, after it was learned that the Ethiopian authorities have withheld approvals for Etihad to commence flights, due to start on November 2.

“The bilateral air service agreements are clear – Etihad has the right to fly to Addis Ababa. They have spent a lot of money to prepare for the launch, marketing and all, staff employment in Ethiopia, rent, investments in all sorts of things, lined up media and agents fam trips, and all is now in jeopardy. I would not be surprised if on landing in the UAE, Ethiopian may not be subjected to a series of ramp checks at Dubai International to drive home the point that you do not mess around like that. It might also have a fall-out on political relations between the UAE and Ethiopia, as such blatant breaches of protocol, especially in the Arab world, means loss of face and THAT will have a reaction somewhere,” wrote the source in an email just received, as the Gulf is an hour ahead of East Africa.

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Presently, it is Ethiopian and Emirates flying between Dubai and Addis, and FlyDubai from Sharjah to Addis while Etihad wanted to launch later this week flights between Abu Dhabi and Addis. Notably Ethiopian Airlines tried their luck with flights to Abu Dhabi a few years ago but failed to attract enough traffic, subsequently scrapping the route within months and now thought to have peddled influence with the authorities to keep what has been described by a source in Addis as “unwelcome competition from another Gulf giant” out of their back yard. Could this be true?

In aviation, and considering the recent politicization of the airline in a radical departure from the past strict division of airline and ruling party, nothing would surprise.