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Ethiopia allays airspace safety fears in wake of controllers strike

Kaduna's airport
Passengers disembark from their plane upon arriving from Addis Ababa, at Kaduna's airport, on March 8, 2017. AFP PHOTO  

Ethiopian Airlines has allayed fears on the safety of Ethiopian airspace following an air traffic controllers’ strike.

The airline said in a statement it is working closely with the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA) to ensure airspace safety in line with global standards.

This comes in the wake of the Kenya Air Traffic Controllers Association claims that the standoff between the Ethiopian Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) and their management was a threat to aviation safety in the region.

“We would like to inform all our customers that we did not have any flight delay or cancellation caused by ATC,” read the statement.

The KATC said aircraft operating in and out of Addis Ababa airspace are in grave danger as the situation continues to deteriorate due to the strike.

The ECAA has since denied the claims terming the information “inaccurate”.

Ethiopian air traffic controllers began the strike on August 21 following disputes over pay and push for more employment benefits.

Following the strike, the agency brought in volunteer air traffic controllers and instructors from other parts of Africa.

“In fact, we are happy to announce that taxi-in, taxi-out and flight arrivals efficiency has improved significantly in the week under ATC strike,” said Ethiopian carrier.

The airline, which has outpaced regional competitors Kenya Airways and South African Airways to become Africa’s largest airline by revenue and profit, recently announced talks to buy a stake in Eritrean Airlines after a landmark peace deal ended a bitter 20-year conflict between the two nations and they resumed air links.

In August, Ethiopian airline signed a shareholding agreement with Zambia’s main development agency to relaunch the southern African country’s flag carrier at an initial cost of $30 million (Sh3 billion).

Under the plan Ethiopian Airlines will own 45 per cent of the revamped national carrier, and Zambia 55 per cent.

In May, the airline said it was in talks with Chad, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea to set up carriers through joint ventures. It also aimed to create a new airline in Mozambique that it will fully own.

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