Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways has been forced to postpone the launch of flights to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia after its application for a permit was rejected by the country’s aviation authorities.

The airline had planned to run five flights a week to the Ethiopian capital from 2 November.

The rejection comes despite six months of negotiations between the UAE and Ethiopian government and a memorandum of understanding signed in 2007 between the two governments.

Following this initial agreement, Ethiopian airlines had started operating scheduled passenger flights to Abu Dhabi in 2008, but these were cancelled 12 months later.

Etihad Airways issued a statement saying: “The actions of the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority ignore the memorandum of understanding between Abu Dhabi and Ethiopia. They are also very much against the best interests of consumers”.

The Abu Dhabi-based airline added that it will continue to push for terms of the original agreement to be fulfilled.

In recent months, Etihad Airways has been rapidly expanding its global network through making several equity partnerships or signing codesharing agreements.