Ethiopian Airlines yesterday marked its 70th anniversary. The flagship airline made its maiden flight on April 8, 1946 from Addis Ababa to Cairo via Asmara with C47 aircraft. Ethiopian was the first airline in Africa to join the jet age in the early 1960s.
It was the first African carrier and second in the world to acquire the Boeing B767 in the 1980s. Ethiopian played an important role in bringing Africa together for the establishment of the then Organization of African Unity (OAU). It diligently served the newly established African nations coming out of colonization. Ethiopian traversed through the trying times during the socialist regime when the nation was languishing in a protracted civil war, famine and a closed economy, which was a very hostile environment for an airline operate.
Following the downfall of the Derg and the introduction of a free market economy the airline changed the gear of growth and began thriving. The airline started to grow fast in 2005. In 2011 the airline joined the Star Alliance Group and a year later the airline made history by acquiring the B787 Dreamliner aircraft—the second country in the world next to Japan. It will also be the first African carrier to acquire the first Airbus A350XWB jetliner next month.
The airline which began the long journey with only five C47 aircraft bought from the US Airforce (surplus of the Second World War) today has a modern fleet of 76 aircraft with an average age of five, serve 92 international destinations on five continents and have a work force of 9,000 employees. With the 15 development roadmap—Vision 2025—the airline transformed itself into an aviation group consisting of seven profit units. The airline today transports over seven million passengers, 328,000 tons of cargo and generates over USD 2.4 billion in annual revenue.
In June 2014 the International Air Transport Association (IATA) declared that Ethiopian was the largest and most profitable airline in Africa. The senior management team of the airline yesterday gathered partner airlines, ticket agents and members of the media to mark the 70th anniversary at the newly built aviation academy. There will be series of events throughout the year. Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said that the airline is 70 years young, growing strong, very energetic and ambitious for the future.