Ethiopian Airlines marks 50 years of flight operations to UK

An Ethiopian Airlines A350 taxis at Heathrow Airport.
Mike Burdett from CROMER, UK, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Major African carrier Ethiopian Airlines is celebrating the 50th year of the launch of its service to the UK in April 1973.

50-year history of flight operations

Ethiopian Airlines boasts a proud history of over seventy-six years of flight operations, and has become one of the African continent’s leading carriers.

The African carrier first began scheduled flight operations into the United Kingdom when its inaugural flight arrived in London-Heathrow on a Boeing 720-B in 1973.

Above: Ethiopian Boeing 720-024B on tow to Terminal 3 LHR, September 1981. Photo Credit: Tim Rees (GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2), via Wikimedia Commons

Scheduled services then began with two flights a week. The flight was originally operated via Cairo, Rome and Frankfurt with First Class and Economy Class.

In 1982, Ethiopian Airlines became the first African airline to offer regular scheduled services to Manchester, with flights from Addis Ababa via Rome.

In 2004, Ethiopian Airlines launched non-stop flights between Addis Ababa and London Heathrow using a Boeing 767-300ER aircraft.

In 2012, the airline upgraded its London service to a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, becoming the first African airline to operate the aircraft.


Above: ET-AOR at Heathrow, February 2014. Photo Credit: Simon Boddy, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Today, Ethiopian offers daily non-stop A350 Airbus flights from London Heathrow (Terminal 2) to Addis Ababa, and 4 weekly B787 Dreamliner flights from Manchester (Terminal 2) to Addis Ababa, carrying over 10,000 passengers monthly, with connections to over 60 destinations across Africa.   

Ethiopian Airlines statement

Commenting on the Anniversary, Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mr. Mesfin Tasew said, “Positioned as the Heart of Europe, the UK has always been a strong and important market for Ethiopian Airlines.”

“Celebrating 50 years is a success story of our loyalty to serving the UK with both passenger and freighter flights.”

“As we mark half a century since we first landed in the UK, we look forward to an ever-growing service to the country with more destinations and flights.”

Henock Woubishet, Area Manager UK and Ireland said,“This is a big anniversary for Ethiopian Airlines as it highlights our unwavering commitment to serving the UK.”

“We want to take this opportunity to extend our gratitude to the travelling public and our partners in UK’s travel industry for supporting our journey over the decades.”

Network and fleet

Currently, Ethiopian serves more than 150 domestic and international passenger and cargo destinations including 21 cities in Europe. 

In addition to its main hub in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, it is also pursuing its multi-hub strategy through a hub in Lomé, Togo with ASKY, in Lilongwe, Malawi with Malawi Airlines and in Lusaka, Zambia with Zambia Airways.

Ethiopian commands the lion’s share of the Pan African passenger and cargo network operating the youngest and most modern fleet to more than 150 domestic and international passenger and cargo destinations across five continents.

Ethiopian’s fleet consists of ultra-modern and environmentally friendly aircraft such as Boeing 737s, 777s, 787s, Airbus A350-900 and Bombardier Dash 8-400 double cabin with an average fleet age of seven years.

In fact, Ethiopian is the first airline in Africa to own and operate most of these aircraft. As a multi-award-winning airline, Ethiopian has been winning various coveted awards including Skytrax’s ‘Best Airline in Africa Award’ for five consecutive years.

The airline has been a Star Alliance member since 2011, and has been registering more than threefold growth in the past 10 years. 

By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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