Living the Little Dream[45] – The new spirit of Africa: Ethiopian Airlines

I recall the first time I tried to make a payment for my flight with Ethiopia Airlines in Australia, my bank had blocked the transaction applying great security measures. I ultimately had to give fine details of my mortgage loans and my employment salary before the bank believed that it was not an incident of fraud and that it was safe to release the payment. Perhaps this is enough said about the little knowledge which Australians has for this airline.

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Ethiopian Airlines is the flag carrier of Ethiopia with over 70 years of flight experience. Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s greatest and most profitable airline, earning more than its rivals on the continent combined. Its greatest competitors – Kenyan Airways and South African Airline – whose books have been in red and even close to insolvent in recent years. Being a member of the Star Alliance, Ethiopian Airlines currently serves more than 100 international destinations whilst operating some of the newest fleet. It flies to more destinations in Africa than any other carrier. Its recent expansion has been rapid: it is opening hubs in Togo and Malawi and acquiring shares in their national airlines in vision to become Pan Africa’s first airline. Being the first African carrier to enter the Chinese market in 1973, Ethiopian Airlines also took an early punt on Chinese demand.

Whilst it is wholly owned by the Ethiopian government, the management of the airline has traditionally been unfettered by government intervention. Differ from many African airlines which have been bankrupted by officials using them as their personal jets, Ethiopian Airlines requires all government officials to pay for their own flights.

Yet, the Ethiopian Airlines is certainly not without its problems. Poor infrastructure is problematic. Anyone who has transited in Addis Ababa airport will be a little shocked by their portable toilets and the inadequate wifi connections (even in the silver lounge!). A new four-runway airport outside Addis Ababa may improve matters, but few expect it to open on time. Waiting to board any Ethiopian Airline’s flight often involve a chaotic scene of passengers fighting to get on the plane. Customers often also complain about the countless delayed Ethiopian flights.

Will I continue to use Ethiopian Airlines? Given the great pricing and convenient routes, I will definitely consider it.