Ethiopia’s national carrier has revealed a plan of setting up hubs in southern Africa, Central Africa and the Horn therefore connecting neighbouring countries and enhancing trade, investment and tourism within the continent.
This plan was revealed by the Ethiopian Airlines CEO, Tewelde Gebremariam on Wednesday at the launch of the airline’s app which will enable customers to make transactions including downloading their boarding pass.
“We are working with Malawi and Zambia as southern Africa hubs. Another hub would be in central Africa, covering the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville and Chad. We are also in talks with neighbouring Djibouti,” Tewelde said.
“We have a successful hub in Togo — Asky Airline — in which we hold a 40 per cent share,” Mr Tewelde said.
“Before we established Asky, the only way to travel to travel from Cote d’Ivoire to Benin was first to go to Paris and then from Paris to Benin,” he added.
While explaining the significance of having multiple hubs Mr Tewede pointed out how Addis Ababa has become a very successful hub.
“Out of the around 11 million passengers we transport every year, 70 per cent are not entering Addis. They are transit passengers to other African countries and the rest of the world. We are connecting Europe with Africa, the Middle East with Africa and Asia with Africa. We want to expand this and be close to the customers. With a very large landmass and around one billion population, Africa has a high growth opportunity. By expanding the hubs, we will be contributing significantly to intra-Africa connectivity,” he said.
Africa is reasonably connected to the rest of the world but not so well connected to itself since internal transport within the continent has been a major challenge especially because there are no open skies.
The airline recently missed an opportunity to take over the previously private owned Arik Airlines of Nigeria after negotiations with the Nigerian government ceased due to financial and managerial complications.
A few months ago Mr Tewelde announced that Ethiopian Airlines was working on getting registered as a local Airline in Mozambique.
In 2017, Ethiopian Airlines added 12 new destinations. “We will be launching flights to 10 new destinations between now and June 2018,” Mr Tewelde said.