Mogadishu, Somalia – The Somali Civil Aviation Authority turned back an Ethiopian Airlines flight carrying a high-level Ethiopian delegation en route to Hargeisa on Wednesday, January 17th 2024.
According to a statement from the Somali Civil Aviation Authority, Ethiopian Airlines flight ET8372, operated by a Dash 8-Q400 aircraft, was denied access to Somali airspace and ordered to turn back while headed to Hargeisa from Addis Ababa.
It is believed the delegation on board was intended to introduce a prominent Ethiopian official to Somaliland, the autonomous region that declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but remains unrecognized by any foreign government.
A Somali government official told local media that the airline initially refused to comply with the order before the Somali Aviation Authority threatened to block all incoming flights from Ethiopia.
Last night, Ethiopian troops reportedly arrived in Hargeisa by land to guard the delegation after the flight was denied.
Tensions between Somalia and Ethiopia have escalated recently following an agreement that allowed Ethiopia usage of a military base in Somaliland along the Red Sea coast. Somalia criticized the deal as undermining its sovereignty and unity.
Ethiopian Airlines CEO Mesfin Tasew later confirmed the incident occurred on January 17th, as reported by the BBC.