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Italy returns Ethiopia’s ‘first plane’: PM

Italy has handed back Ethiopia’s first ever plane, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said on Tuesday, around nine decades after it was taken by Italy’s Fascist invading forces. “Today is a day of great pride for Ethiopians as we celebrate the official handover of ‘Tsehay’ by the Italian Government,” Abiy said on his official account on X, formerly Twitter. His post was accompanied by pictures of the gleaming red two-seater plane, which was built in 1935 during the reign of emperor Haile Selassie. “Tsehay is the first aircraft built in Ethiopia in 1935 under the collaborative efforts of the German engineer and pilot of the emperor, Herr Ludwig Weber, and Ethiopian individuals of that era,” Abiy said. The aircraft was named in honour of Princess Tsehay, the daughter of emperor Selassie, state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported on its website. It said its maiden flight took place in December 1935, when Weber flew 50 kilometres (about 30 miles) from the capital Addis Ababa for about seven minutes. Historians say the plane was taken to Italy after the forces of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, then Abyssinia, in 1935. “Tsehay represents the only surviving artefact from the aviation endeavours of the 1930s,” Fana said. The handover of the plane took place during a visit by Abiy to Rome for a summit of African leaders hosted by Italy. “I extend my immense gratitude to Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni for her support over the past year in facilitating its return,” Abiy said.

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