Ethiopia’s Tigray People’s Liberation Front-backed (TPLF) forces allegedly destroyed Axum Emperor Yohannes IV Airport (AXU), serving Axum, a town northwest of Mekelle, reported the state-affiliated local media. The incident occurred after the Prime Minister of Ethiopia gave the Tigrayan regional forces 72 hours to surrender.

According to Ethiopian state-affiliated media, on November 23, 2020, Axum Emperor Yohannes IV Airport (AXU), the commercial airport serving Axum, a city in the northern Tigray Region of Ethiopia, was destroyed in an attack by Tigrayan forces. A day prior,  the government of Ethiopia gave the TPLF a three-day ultimatum to succumb before the military began an offensive on the regional capital of Mekelle.

Debretsion Gebremichael, the leader of TPLF, told Reuters that the governmental ultimatum was a measure to cover the regrouping of its forces after defeats on three fronts. However, the exact details of the incident have not been clarified yet. 

The conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia among the Tigray special forces and the Ethiopian National Defense Force started at the beginning of November 2020 after the government of Ethiopia refused to accept the results of Tigray parliamentary elections and postponed the event due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the country. 

On November 17, 2020, the CAAs of Ethiopia and Sudan restricted the UN321, UG300, and UL432 airways after multiple airports in the region were targeted by rockets. Later on the same day, OPSGROUP, a membership organization for airlines and aircraft operators that monitors airspace and airports on risk and changes on flight safety, released the Airspace Risk Warning document. 

The warning document recommended air carriers to avoid the particular airspace while transiting Ethiopia, Eritrea, or Sudan due to possible danger as missiles were fired across the border into Eritrea targeting HHAS/Asmara as well as HABD/Bahir Dar and HAGN/Gondar at the beginning of November 2020.

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Due to a major escalation of the conflict in the Tigray Region near the Ethiopia and Eritrea border, the Civil Aviation Authorities (CAA) of Ethiopia and Sudan restricted some airways on Europe – East Africa routes.