Ethiopia

Risk Level: Two - Danger exists

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The conflict in the Northern Ethiopian region of Tigray continues. The Government military are engaged in active fighting with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) who are seeking independence. Following a failed ceasefire agreement, the Ethiopian CAA has issued an airspace closure. Aircraft are not allowed to operate below FL290 over the Tigray region along the Ethiopian/Eritrea border, in the north of the country.

The primary risk is misidentification by TPLF forces, and the use of anti-aircraft weaponry including man portable air defence systems (MANPADS). Several open airways are found near the conflict zone.

Secondary risks include the use of ballistic weapons and missiles to target aviation infrastructure and airports in the area – particularly HHAS/Asmara, HABD/Bahir Dar and HAGN/Gondar which were previously attacked with rockets.

Major Events:
July 2021: HAAA/Addis FIR published a Notam closing a section of airspace below FL290 over the Tigray region along the Ethiopia/Eritrea border. This follows reports that militia shot down a military transport plane in the region the previous week, near the capital Mekele. The conflict appears to be escalating again. Caution if overflying the area, particularly on airways UM656/UT124 between the HSSS/Khartoum and HAAA/Addis FIRs which have previously been closed due to the conflict.



Nov 2020: Major escalation of the conflict in the Tigray region, along the Ethiopia/Eritrea border. Some airways were closed by the Ethiopian and Sudanese CAAs. Other airways that were still open were very close to the conflict zone. These are frequently used by international operators on the Europe-East Africa route. In particular: UN321, UG300 and UL432. Multiple airports were targeted by rockets. Missiles were fired across the border into Eritrea, targeting HHAS/Asmara. Within Ethiopia, HABD/Bahir Dar and HAGN/Gondar were also targeted.




Sep 2018: Risk due to hidden ATC strike. Ethiopian ATC controllers went on strike, and the ECAA and Ethiopian Airlines recruited both retired and foreign controllers to pick up the slack. Ethiopia denied several times that there was in fact a strike happening at all. The strike ended September 7th. Many were not qualified to operate in Ethiopian airspace, due to inexperience.

Current warnings list :

Source Reference Issued Valid to
Ethiopia Notam HAAA A0222/21 27 Jul 2021 27 Oct 2021
OPSGROUP Airspace Risk Warning ARW11-2020 17 Nov 2020 Ongoing
KACTA Letter of Concern Safety Issues in Ethiopia 30 Aug 2018 07 Sep 2018
OPSGROUP Research Article Ethiopia Covering Up ATC Strike 29 Aug 2018 07 Sep 2018
Source: Ethiopia
Issued: 27-Jul-21, valid until: 27 Oct 2021
Plain English: Airspace closed below FL290 in the north of the country due to ongoing conflict.
FLIGHT IS PROHIBITED TO FLY AT OR BELOW FL290 WITHIN MEKELE TMA AND WITHIN THE AIRSPACE DEFINED BY JOINING THE FOLLOWING SUCCESSIVE POINTS AND LINES
135914.7N 0362048.9E
130042.8N 0365122.9E
ETOBU(132132N 0373433E)
TILUD(134116N 0375950E)
EVITO(142911N 0382424E)
THE COMMON FIR BOUNDARY BETWEEN ADDIS AND ASMARA AND THE COMMON FIR BOUNDARY BETWEEN ADDIS AND KHARTOUM. REF AIP SUP A 04/2021.
GND - FL290, 27 JUL 09:00 2021 UNTIL 27 OCT 09:00 2021.
CREATED: 01 AUG 05:52 2021
Source: OPSGROUP
Issued: 17-Nov-20, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Airspace Risk warning for Ethiopia/Eritrea - Tigray Conflict Zone. Risk to overflights on adjacent airways, and airports in region.
See PDF for full content.
Source: KACTA
Issued: 30-Aug-18, valid until: 07 Sep 2018
Plain English: Kenyan ATC Controllers have listed out several major issues with safety both in Ethiopia and in the area shared with Kenyan airspace.
Source: OPSGROUP
Issued: 29-Aug-18, valid until: 07 Sep 2018
Plain English: Ethiopian ATC Controllers went on strike, and ECAA and Ethiopian Airlines used foreign and retired controllers to cover, causing safety concerns.
See link for full story.