- To receive first B737MAX in June
The fastest growing airline in Africa, Ethiopian Airlines, is going to launch ten new international flight destinations in the coming six months.
Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said the fast growing airline is expanding its route network fast. “Between now and June we are going to open ten new destinations. Almost two destinations ever single month. That is a record in our history,” Tewolde said.
Ethiopian, which styles itself as the “New Spirit of Africa”, would introduce new long-haul flight to Chicago, or Houston in the US in June 2018. “We are still comparing Houston and Chicago they are almost comparable in terms of giving us connectivity to the rest of North America,” the CEO said.
The national carrier will open new routes to, among others, Geneva, Barcelona, Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Toamasina, second city in Madagascar and popular tourist destination, Buenos Aires, Jakarta, Istanbul, and Port Louis, Mauritius. Ethiopian will operate its maiden flight to Buenos Aires in March and it will be an all women crew operated flight with B787 aircraft. It has already been flying to São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil – the only airline that directly connects Africa with Latin America.
“We are still waiting to secure landing permit in Mauritius. In some of the planned destinations we are in the final preparation stage in some other destinations we are waiting for landing permit,” Tewolde said.
Tewolde said that the airline industry is hyper competitive and sometimes very challenging. Amidst all challenges Ethiopian Airlines is growing very fast. We have maintained an average growth of 20 percent. The airline is very profitable. For those us who have the opportunity to work in the airline this is a very exciting period. When we wake up in the morning there is a new facility to be inaugurated or new route to be launched. It is a very interesting period in the history of the airline.”
Currently, Ethiopian is serving 105 international destinations in five continents, 54 of them are in Africa. The only inhabited continent that Ethiopian wings have not reached is Australia. “Give us few years and we will reach there,” Tewolde said.
Ethiopian is also growing its fleet. The national airline now operates around 100 aircraft including B787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350XWBs. The airline is taking delivery of new and modern aircraft. “New fuel efficient, environmentally friendly and comfortable aircraft are coming. We are taking two airplanes every month,” Tewolde said.
The airline uses B777s, B787 and A350s for mid- and long-haul flights, B737 for short-haul and Bombardier Q400s for domestic flights. The airline placed firm orders for 20 B737MAX jetliners. According to Tewolde, the first B737MAX aircraft will arrive in Addis Ababa in June 2018.The airline has about 60 aircraft on its order book.
“We continue to grow in a fast, sustainable and profitable manner planned in our Vision 2025,” he said.
In terms of Infrastructure the airline built new aircraft maintenance hangars, and a state-of-the-art cargo terminal. The airline has expanded the aviation academy at a cost of USD 100 million and it is also building a five star hotel with 373 rooms.
Ethiopian is finalizing the construction of the five-star hotel built near the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. According to the CEO, the hotel will be up and running after three months. “The objective is not for the airline to enter the hotel industry but it will enable us to give package tour services for our valued customers – airline ticket, transport, hotel and car rental services through Ethiopian Holidays. We want to promote the tourism potential that we have not yet exploited. We have a lot to offer but the tourism infrastructure is not developed up to global standards.”
SKYTRAX, an internationally acclaimed airline rating agency, recently rated Ethiopian as a four-star airline.