Looking at its previous successes, Ethiopian Airlines is looking to the future and beyond! AviationSource sat down with the airline to discuss their plans.
We sat down with Samson Arega, Ethiopian Airlines’ US Regional Director, where we discussed operations in the US, Africa, Europe, and beyond, as well as current plans around Cargo.
Without further ado, let’s get into it…
2023 Is Expected To Be A Busy Year…
The airline is expecting a busy year in 2023, with Arega saying the following on this:
“2023 is expected to be a busy year as movement restrictions due to the pandemic have been lifted in almost every corner of the globe”
“Following this, we expect a very high demand, especially with regard to passenger transportation, and we are ready to accommodate the demand”.
“We have an adequate number of fleets and human resources to handle the demand.”
“Some of our passenger fleets were idle or temporarily converted to freighter, and now we will bring back all resources.
“In addition to this, we will receive 9 aircraft in 2023 for passenger services.”
Ethiopian Airlines’ Expansion into the US…
Regarding an update on Ethiopian Airlines’ presence in the United States, Arega expanded on this, labeling the US market as “very important”:
The US market is very important for Ethiopian Airlines and the African continent as a whole.”
“It is a big market for Ethiopians as we transport people from all over Africa to the US and vice versa.”
“In May, we will start direct flights to Atlanta, in addition to the previous passenger services to New York, Newark, Chicago, Washington DC, and cargo service to Miami.”
Utilization of a Mixed-Manufacturer Fleet…
As we all know, Ethiopian Airlines utilizes a mixed fleet of aircraft built by manufacturers like Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, and others.
On the reasoning behind this, Arega said the following:
“We use a mixed fleet purely from a business perspective. In fact, Ethiopian uses Bombardier, too.”
“There are various factors that contribute to a mixed fleet, such as capacity, range, operating efficiencies, lease terms, favorable pricing, availability of planes when needed, etc.”
“More importantly, we select the aircraft which suits our desired mission profile”.
“Therefore, our usage of the mixed fleet is based on the benefit it renders for the company.”
Ethiopian Airlines’ Presence in Africa…
Tourism in Africa is beginning to explode in growth, especially as air travel becomes an easier mode of transport around the continent.
Arega feels Ethiopian Airlines is ready to handle this demand:
“Ethiopian is ready to meet the need of our customers based on our world-class hospitality as well as accessibility”
“We have around 37 aircraft on order; we believe they will help us in meeting the needs of the booming tourist demand.”
One thing that has also been observed within the African tourism market is the country of Sudan, which has been exploding in demand.
This is something that Arega and Ethiopian Airlines have noted, with him saying:
“It will definitely be one of our destinations which Ethiopians will be interested in expanding.”
AviationSource also challenged Arega on the presence of Kenya Airways, a large competitor in the region, especially with its plans to operate 119 aircraft and increase its destinations by more than double to 115 routes.
He said the following on this:
“It is true that the air transport market is very competitive and stiff. We have a lot of experience to win the market.”
Use of Fifth-Freedom Flights…
One area of success for Ethiopian Airlines has been with Fifth-Freedom flights, in which the airline operates specific routes for additional revenue and better aircraft utilization.
The Manchester-Geneva flight is a big example of this.
Arega expanded on the additional successes it has provided the airline with:
“Ethiopian Airlines’ services across its global network are based on traffic rights granted by countries. These traffic rights may or may not include the 5th freedom traffic rights.”
“While wishing to secure more fifth freedom traffic rights where the market permits, Ethiopian Airlines is currently serving some destinations with fifth freedom traffic rights.”
“It is obvious that airlines benefit better if they can serve with fifth freedom traffic rights.”
“Fifth freedom of traffic right does not only help an airline to generate more revenue, but it helps in effective aircraft utilization and facilitation of trade and tourism.
When asked whether any more fifth freedom flights would be added, Arega confirmed that Abidjan-New York would be launching soon.
Boeing Freighters Working Well With The Airline…
Ethiopian Airlines is having tremendous success with its fleet of Boeing freighters.
From the short-to-medium haul perspective, the Boeing 737-800BCF has opened up successes, which Arega details below:
“The operations have been very good so far. We have four B737-800F aircraft, which we are operating in Africa and the Middle East, with a capacity of up to 25 tons per flight.”
Asked about the Boeing 777 Freighters, Arega points out the order for five more units of the type as well as its Memorandum of Understanding for 777X Freighters as well.
Either way, the carrier is making waves within the cargo market, which is encouraging this fleet expansion.
Bringing Everything Together With Ethiopian Airlines…
Arega brought everything together and remains excited about what 2023 holds for Ethiopian Airlines:
“Ethiopian will continue to provide a world-class service tailored to African-flavored Ethiopian hospitality with its young and modern fleet.”
“We always appreciate our customers’ feedback and we use it to improve our services; please do not hesitate to tell us what we need to improve in our services.”
It remains clear for the airline that depending on its successes in 2023, this will be a case study for what the rest of the decade could look like.
For now, all eyes are on Ethiopian Airlines to see what additional steps can be made going into the future.