Risk Level: Two - Danger exists

[ about risk levels ]
Improving airspace risk picture in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region (the Ethiopia/Eritrea border) since a peace deal was agreed to end the conflict in early Nov 2022. Airspace warnings remain in place though - several states say to avoid the area.

The primary risk to aviation is from any large-scale ceasefire violations involving missiles or anti-aircraft weaponry, which may present a risk to overflights in the region - civil aircraft being mistaken for something of military interest, or simply caught in the crossfire.

Read: Ethiopia Airspace Update, July 2022 (OPSGROUP article)

Major Events:
Feb 2024: New flare-up in fighting in the Amhara region (south of Tigray region), including air strikes.
Nov 2022: Peace deal agreed in the Tigray region. Ethiopian Airlines is planning to resume flights to HAMK/Mekele airport.
Nov 2021: Several western countries issued airspace warnings, as well as “do not travel” travel warnings for the Tigray region following increased fighting there.
July 2021: HAAA/Addis FIR published a Notam closing a section of airspace below FL290 over the Tigray. This followed reports that militia shot down a military transport plane in the region the previous week, near the capital Mekele.
Nov 2020: Major escalation of the conflict in the Tigray region. 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 Sep 7. Many were not qualified to operate in Ethiopian airspace, due to inexperience.

Current warnings list :

Source Reference Issued Valid to
France AIC 17/23 14 Dec 2023 Ongoing
Italy AIC 33/23 10 Jul 2023 05 Oct 2024
Germany AIC 15/23 04 Jul 2023 Ongoing
UK UK AIP ENR 1.1 (1.4.5) 16 Nov 2021 Ongoing
OPSGROUP Airspace Risk Warning ARW11-2020 17 Nov 2020 Ongoing
KACTA Letter of Concern Safety Issues in Ethiopia 30 Aug 2018 Ongoing
OPSGROUP Research Article Ethiopia Covering Up ATC Strike 29 Aug 2018 Ongoing
Source: France
Reference: AIC 17/23
Issued: 14-Dec-23, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: French operators should not fly in the northern section of the HAAA/Addis Ababa FIR below FL320 (previous advice advised against all flights in this area).
From 14/12/2023 and until further notice, pilots in command of aircraft performing air services mentioned in paragraph 1.1 are requested:
- to maintain at all times a flight level above or equal to FL320 in the airspace of Ethiopia (FIR ADDIS ABABA (HAAA)) corresponding to the TMA (terminal manoeuvring area) of MEKELE aerodrome as well as in the portion of airspace defined by the points: 135914.7N - 0362048.9E, 130042.8N - 0365122.9E, ETOBU (132132N - 0373433E), TILUD (134116N 0375950E), EVITO (142911N 0382424E), the boundary between the ADDIS ABABA (HAAA) and ASMARA (HHAA) flight information regions and the boundary between the ADDIS ABABA (HAAA) and KHARTOUM (HSSX) flight information regions ;
- to exercise great caution when overflying within the rest of ADDIS ABABA FIR (HAAA) below FL320.
Source: Italy
Reference: AIC 33/23
Issued: 10-Jul-23, valid until: 05 Oct 2024
Plain English: Caution to Italian operators in the HAAA/Addis Ababa FIR due to risks from anti-aircraft weaponry.
Italian air carriers and pilots in command when planning flight operations shall take into serious consideration the hazardous situation posed within the airspace of Ethiopia - FIR Addis Ababa (HAAA) at all altitudes from dedicated anti-aviation weaponry. Operators are strongly advised to take this unsafe condition into account in their risk assessments and routing decisions.
Source: Germany
Reference: AIC 15/23
Issued: 04-Jul-23, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: Caution to German operators in the HAAA/Addis Ababa FIR due to risk posed by anti-aircraft weaponry.
Level 1 (Lowest risk). Civil German air operators are advised to take potential risk into account in their risk assessment and routing decisions within FIR ADDIS ABABA (HAAA). Potential risk from anti-aviation weaponry.
Source: UK
Issued: 16-Nov-21, valid until: Ongoing
Plain English: UK operators advised of potential risk in the HAAA/Addis Ababa FIR due to anti-aviation weaponry.
Security - Hazardous Situation in Ethiopia

UK civil air operators are advised to take potential risk into account within FIR ADDIS ABABA (HAAA). Potential risk from anti-aircraft weaponry. Contact UK Department for Transport +44 (0)207-082 6639 or +44 (0)207-944 3111 out of hours.
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: Ongoing
Plain English: Kenyan ATC Controllers have listed out several major issues with safety both in Ethiopia and in the area shared with Kenyan airspace.
Issued: 29-Aug-18, valid until: Ongoing
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.