Ethiopian Airlines looks to extend network to South India
Rituparna Chatterjee – Mumbai
Ethiopian Airlines, the national carrier of Ethiopia, is looking at expanding its network in India by introducing one to two entry points in South India preferably in Chennai, Ahmedabad or Bengaluru. Presently, the airline operates daily flights from Mumbai and Delhi to Africa through Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia where it has a ground time of one-two hours. Speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the airline’s holiday arm, Ethiopian Holidays, in the India market, Tadesse Tilahun, regional director, Indian subcontinent, Ethiopian Airlines stated, “We are observing good traffic from South India to Africa and hence we want to introduce new entry points. The bilateral agreements are presently in process and once it is finalised we will launch one or two entry points in South India anytime this FY.”
The major destinations that Indians travel to in Africa are South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.
In addition, the airline also plans to increase the frequency of its existing points – from daily to double daily for both Mumbai and Delhi anytime this year. Tilahun added, “We are presently experiencing a load factor of approximately 80 per cent from both Mumbai and Delhi. We will be deploying Boeing 787 for Mumbai and Boeing 737-800 for Delhi. The past one year has been challenging for the airline industry because of the Ebola outbreak. Despite this, our traffic has grown from India to Africa. In 2014, we experienced seven per cent growth as compared to the year before.”
Sharing his views on the growing trade volume between India and Ethiopia, Mesfin Gebremariam Shawo, consul general, Consulate General of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Mumbai – India stated, “We have been importing a lot of machinery and pharmaceuticals from India. The trade volume between India and Ethiopia was around US$1.3 billion in 2014. With the assistance of the Indian government, we are also at the point of completing a sugar factory in Ethiopia for which we have been importing machinery from India and have been given a long term loan as well.”