At the 2018 Arabian Travel Awards, Ethiopian Airlines was voted as the “Best African Airline,” a recognition of the carrier’s impressive expansion into new markets over the past decade.
To fuel its growth and Ethiopia’s booming tourism industry, Ethiopian Airlines plans to build a new airport with an annual capacity of 80 million passengers. In addition to connecting Ethiopia to foreign investors and multinational companies, the airline has engaged with impoverished Ethiopians directly by funneling their profits into charitable causes.
In the article below six things to know about Ethiopian Airlines and its impact on economic development in Ethiopia are explained.
Top 6 Things About Ethiopian Airlines
- Ethiopia’s location in the Horn of Africa makes it a prime spot for aviation. As a proof for this statement, the number of passengers flown by Ethiopian Airlines tripled from 2008 to 2017. A 2015 United Nations article found that Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s fastest growing and most profitable passenger and cargo airline. On the cutting edge of innovation, Ethiopian Airlines was the second carrier in the world to operate the Boeing 787 Dreamliner back in 2012. As of now, the carrier serves 101 international and 22 domestic destinations.
- Ethiopian Airlines is key for the country’s Vision 2025 framework, under which the government plans to make Addis Ababa the leading manufacturing hub of Africa. The national airline will help Ethiopia achieve Vision 2025 by connecting Ethiopia to China and South America. Last year, the carrier launched flight to Chengdu, China, and in 2018 the Airlines has expanded into Buenos Aires, Chicago and Geneva.
- The Airline’s expansive network has helped to transform Ethiopia into a major tourist destination. In 2015, the European Council on Tourism and Trade named Ethiopia the world’s best tourism destination. That same year, 681,000 tourists visited Ethiopia, supporting a tourism industry that makes up 4.5 percent of the country’s GDP and provides more than one million jobs.
- Ethiopian Airlines has made environmental protection a pillar of its corporate social responsibility. Under its “Plant one tree for every passenger flown” project, the company will plant nine million trees across different regions of Ethiopia. Moreover, the airline has trained its employees on integrated waste management, hazardous chemical treatment, air quality monitoring and sustainable production. At the Ethiopian Aviation Academy, pilots-in-training can now take a course on the U.N. Environment Sustainable Consumption and Green Economy Program. Erik Solheim, the Head of U.N. Environment, applauded Ethiopian Airlines for raising the bar on environmental responsibility and green business.
- Beyond its commitment to a green economy, Ethiopian Airlines uses its planes to deliver educational supplies to impoverished Ethiopians. For example, Ethiopian Airlines partnered with the African Legal Library Project, a nonprofit organization, to transport 40 boxes with 720 law books, as well as 101 e-Readers with over 1,000 books each to Debre Markos University.
- The company has also used its resources to deliver medical aid to impoverished Ethiopians. In 2010, Ethiopian Airlines collaborated with Seattle Anesthesia Outreach (SAO) to deliver 12,000 pounds worth of medical supplies, mainly anesthesia equipment to the Black Lion Hospital, the largest hospital in the country. To supplement the delivery of medical supplies, 20 SAO doctors traveled to Ethiopia as part of a humanitarian trip. To this day, Ethiopian Airlines fills empty cargo space in its passenger planes with humanitarian supplies.
Rapid, sustained growth is in the Ethiopian Airlines’s horizon. In May 2018, Ethiopian Airlines accelerated its expansion plans, confirming that it will order 13 additional Boeing 787s and six Airbus A350s. According to the Brookings Institution, the company plans to invest in start-up airlines across Africa.
It bought a minority stake in Malawi Airlines in 2013 and helped relaunch Zambia Airways in January 2018. Looking forward, Ethiopian Airlines plans to jumpstart national carriers in Chad, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea, signaling its desire to connect not only Ethiopia but the whole African continent to the global economy.
– Mark Blekherman