News

Ethiopian Airlines’ maiden flight to Dublin sees 8 claiming refugee status

NewsBy Karl Doyle
The maiden flight from Addis Ababa was marred by the asylum requests
The maiden flight from Addis Ababa was marred by the asylum requests

A maiden trip from to Ireland from Ethiopia has come with some unexpected baggage – as eight of those on board have applied for asylum here.

An investigation is now taking place after it emerged that a group of passengers on Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET50 didn’t head for the party at the gate that was planned to celebrate the new route last Saturday – instead going straight to immigration to claim refugee status.

As tourism chiefs and VIPs celebrated at Dublin airport immigration officers had to attempt to ascertain the identities of the ‘refugees’ – as they had arrived with no ID cards or travel documents.

If their application is successful it could come at a price of around €1m to the Irish taxpayer, as the cost of assessing someone’s application normally runs to around €120,000-€150,000.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe was supposed to be on board the onward journey to LA, but had cancelled his plans after news of the Berkeley tragedy.

Irish Ambassador Aidan O’Hara and the Ethiopian Airlines chief executive were on board, however, and were pictured cutting a cake at the celebration party.