Ethiopian Airlines (ET, Addis Ababa) has been forced to suspend its route to Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) after just one week after the DRC’s regulator, Régie des Voies Aériennes de la République Démocratique du Congo (RVA), claimed the airport was not fit to handle such flights.
Having inaugurated a 3x weekly return service from Addis Ababa to Goma via Entebbe/Kampala on July 10, Ethiopian was then informed by the RVA that it would have to suspend its flights until further notice. The RVA says it considered July 10’s flight to be a test-run and as such, claims the runway is unfit to handle Ethiopian’s Dash 8-400s.
“For security reasons related to the ongoing work on the runway, the RVA has decided to revoke permission granted to Ethiopian Airlines to operate flights to the airport of Goma,” the RVA letter sent to the airline said.
Goma’s only runway, the 3,000m-long 18/36, was severely damaged by the eruption of the nearby Mount Nyiragongo in 2002 when a lava flow covered and solidified on a 1,200m section of the track. In 2013, German NGO Welthungerhilfe (“World Hunger Aid”) rehabilitated 600m of damaged runway leaving the RVA to recover the rest.
The RVA’s move has caused an outcry after local media questioned how the body could withhold Ethiopian’s services while allowing local carrier CAA – Compagnie Africaine d’Aviation (BU, Kinshasa N’Dolo) to serve Goma using Fokker 50s and larger A320-200s.