Italy has officially returned Ethiopia’s first-ever plane, ‘Tsehay,’ almost nine decades after it was taken by Italy’s Fascist invading forces. The handover ceremony took place during Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s visit to Rome for a summit of African leaders hosted by Italy.
The red two-seater plane, originally built in 1935 during the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie, was named in honour of Princess Tsehay, the daughter of the emperor. Historians note that the aircraft was taken to Italy after the forces of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini occupied Ethiopia in 1935–1936.
The Italian Defence Ministry described ‘Tsehay’ as a “unique specimen” with about 30 hours of flight time. It has been kept at the Italian Air Force Museum since 1941 and will be transported to Ethiopia for display.
Prime Minister Abiy expressed pride in the handover, stating that “Tsehay represents the only surviving artefact from the aviation endeavours of the 1930s.” He extended gratitude to Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni for facilitating the return of the historic aircraft.