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News: Passengers return home as inexplicable restriction on flights from Mekelle to Addis takes a toll

Passengers inside Alula Aba Nega International Airport in Mekelle. Photo: Haphtom Berhe from Tigray

Addis Abeba – In less than two weeks time of the Ethiopian Airlines flight resumption to Tigray, restriction has been made on some passengers en route to Addis Abeba from Mekelle, witnesses told Addis Standard.

According to passengers flights now exclude all people between 16 and 65 age group. A passenger who purchased air ticket to fly to Addis Abeba from Mekelle told Addis Standard that she was forced to return from Mekelle’s Alula Abanega International Airport after being denied entrance to the airport.

“Although I arrived on time at the airport, a security man dressed in a federal police uniform indicated me to an employee of the airlines,” a passenger who prefer to remain anonymous said, adding that, “the employee of the airport, having read my identity card, told me that I was not allowed to travel unless I present a hospital referral letter to receive medical treatment in Addis Ababa.”

She added that she showed her round-trip ticket to the employee but he told her the federal government has already given them a directive restricting even those with round trip tickets unless they have medical referral evidences, or they are below 16 and over 65 years of age.

“I came here a year ago from Addis Abeba and now they rejected my return” she said.

Another young passenger, whose flight was cancelled last Saturday, told Addis Standard, that, “an employee of the Ethiopian Airlines said to me that I was not qualified for the travel” despite booking tickets and being at the airport in Mekelle on schedule.

According to the witnesses, the restrictions, which begun on 06 January, do not apply on youngsters who have traveled from Addis Ababa to Tigray and they are allowed to board their flights back to Addis Abeba.

Authorities in the Tigray regional state, told regional media that they don’t have knowledge of this recent restriction on the travel but has been discussing with the federal government following complaints from passengers.

The Ethiopian Airlines which resumed its flights to Mekelle, on 28 December 2022 after nearly 20 months of suspension, did not respond to inquiry made by Addis Standard regarding the restriction.

It is to be remembered that as of 29 December last year, members of Ethiopian Federal Police were deployed in Mekelle, and commenced safeguarding federal institutions and installations under the auspices of the federal police. Alula Aba Nega International Airport is a federal installation. AS

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