Eritrean Airlines Starts Flights into Yemen [Archives:1998/50/Business & Economy]

December 14 1998

As relations between Yemen and Eritrea continue to improve, following the peaceful settlement of their dispute over Hunaish Islands, the newly established Eritrean Airlines has decided to extend its flights to Sanaa. Mr. Mebrahtu Habte, Marketing Manager for the airlines, has recently visited Yemen to finalize arrangements for the flights. 
Interview by Mohammed Bin Sallam of Yemen Times 
Q: What is the purpose of your visit to Yemen? 
A: I’m here in Yemen to find out how we can work with Yemenia. We have already started our operation as Red Sea Air which is a subsidiary company of Eritrean Airlines, operating now to Jeddah, Riyadh and Dubai. 
For Sanaa, it’s going to start this week. Since arrangements are not yet complete, the inaugural flight was delayed by one week. 
What we are trying to do is first to develop a market between the two countries. People and cargo coming from Eritrea to Yemen and vise versa. 
We also want to use Sanaa as a gateway, bringing passengers to Sanaa and then we connect them with Yemenia to fly to Europe and other destinations. On the way back, Yemenia can bring them in here and then they connect with our flights. 
Q: What are the airplanes used by Eritrean Airlines? 
A: We have a Bac 111, which offers 20 business class and 55 economy class seats. It is a new company with only one airplane. The activity of Eritrean Airlines is that we are the ground handling agents. We handle all the airlines who come to Asmara and we are also sales agents for all other airlines. 
Eritrean Airlines will hopefully grow to become a national carrier. 
Q: When did you establish Eritrean Airlines? 
A: In 1991, we established the ground handling at the airport. A 100% government institution, this company was just established about 6 months ago. We started operating only one month ago. 
Q: What are your plans for the future? 
A: By February, we’ll be going to Europe, the Middle East and Africa. There are several investors interested in this enterprise. Negotiations are still going on. When it ends, we’ll begin our activities. 
Q: Will you benefit by working with Yemenis? 
A: Yemenis have long years of experience in this field. They have got very important training departments and good service. So, we’ll bring people to train here. The relationship will be much better than before. 
Q: How many airlines are operating into Eritrea? 
A: Lufthansa flies 4 times a week from Asmara to Frankfurt, Saudia flies twice a week, Yemenia once a week, Egypt Air twice a week,. There are also Emirates Airlines and other companies. 
The major investors in Eritrean Airlines are from Saudi Arabia. What we are trying to do is to sell shares to Eritreans. If we take for example 51%, part of it will be sold to all the nationals who are outside the country. 
Q: How many airports do you have in Eritrea? 
A: We already have two airports and the third is being constructed. 
Q: How about the prices of your tickets? 
A: We are a new company and we cannot charge higher prices than others. People have to know our service. We have to compete in the market. As we are going to work with Yemenia, we are going to charge the same fares. 
Q: Who is your GSA in Yemen? 
A: Universal is our general sales agent. We have selected them because they are well-known in the market and they are credible and reliable. We felt that they are a strong support for us in the market.