Following two years of downturn, international travel has been bouncing back in recent months. With this in mind, Simple Flying caught up with Ethiopian Airlines’ USA Regional Director, Samson Arega, to talk about prospects across the Atlantic in this new chapter.
Using its expertise
Ethiopian Airlines has been serving the United States market for over two decades. While the operator has robustly grown in North America over the years, the US is one of the strategic markets that the company is determined to develop.
Samson noted that his airline is witnessing travel market growth in tandem with remarkable socio-economic progress in Africa. With this pattern, the carrier is concentrating more on corporate & business travel. With growing ties between the US and African countries, these segments will significantly shape themselves as the next big emerging travel market.
The airline’s current average fleet age is just over nine years. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying
Thus, in this recovery stage, Ethiopian Airlines’ growth strategy runs in line with its refined focus. Samson told Simple Flying the following about the flight strategy:
“We have scheduled to re-introduce three weekly flights to Washington Dulles Airport (IAD) via Lomé, Togo/West Africa. We are connecting Washington DC, the nation’s capital with West African cities starting in June. This direct flight is evidence of the commitment that we have for our esteemed clients here in the US, to conveniently connect and provide hassle-free air services, and a part of our strategic market expansion in the US. Furthermore, we are also regularizing all our operations to the airports that we fly as the passenger demand eventually recovers.”
Plenty of potential
Before the pandemic, Ethiopian flew to Houston four times a week from Addis Ababa via Lomé, Togo, in both directions, primarily for refueling purposes. The Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner was deployed on these operations, and the carrier is keen to restart service. However, it doesn’t have a timeline just yet.
Altogether, Ethiopian now has four passenger routes to the US, which are all operating outbound via Dublin or Lomé. The 787-9 is the most used aircraft, followed by the 777-200LR, 787-8, and 777-300ER. In a typical month, there are 21 weekly bookable departures to Africa from the US.
“We have more flights between North America and Africa than any other airline. Ethiopian Airlines was the third-largest Airline between North America and Africa in 2019, with some 595,000 passengers, behind Delta Air Lines and Royal Air Maroc. Now, in 2022, we have the highest capacity planned to date.”
Ethiopian Airlines reported a 2020/21 revenue of $3.5 billion. Photo: Ethiopian Airlines
There are notable growth opportunities for the aviation industry across Africa, especially due to the emergence of new passenger segments. The population of sub-Saharan Africa is expected to double by the middle of the century. Additionally, nearly 60% of the continent’s population is under 25-years old. This aspect makes Africa the continent with the youngest population in the world.
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Additionally, many members of the young population are from an expanding middle class that is well adapted to global business patterns. So, Ethiopian Airlines will be keeping a close eye to ensure it meets the demand from these emerging segments.
What are your thoughts about Ethiopian Airlines’ routes to the United States? What do you make of the overall focus in this department? Let us know what you think in the comment section.
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