Ethiopian Airlines breaks ten million milestone

Passenger numbers have exceeded ten million at Ethiopian Airlines for the first time in its history during a year when the carrier added eight new international destinations to its network.

Ethiopian Airlines has reported a 21 percent spike in passenger numbers to 10.6 million during its 2017/18 fiscal year, the first time the carrier has broken the ten million milestone.

The airline opened eight new international destinations during the period to Geneva (Switzerland), Chicago (US), Bahrain, Kaduna (Nigeria), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Kisangani and Mbuji-Mayi  (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Nosy-Be (Madagascar).

Operating revenue rose 43 percent year-on-year to ET98.1 billion ($3.22bn) in the 12 months to 8 July 2018 and net profit stood at ETB6.8 billion ($250m). Ethiopian also added 14 new aircraft during the year, becoming the first African carrier to have a fleet of more than 100 aircraft.

“This performance is all the more exceptional given the very tough operating and competitive environment in Africa, where jet fuel price, our main cost driver, has soared during the year and is on average 30 percent more expensive in Africa, our home market, than in the rest of the world, putting the continent’s carriers at a severe competitive disadvantage,” said Tewolde GebreMariam, chief executive of Ethiopian Airlines.

Tewolde thumbRoutes Podcast: Tewolde GebreMariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines
Recorded live in a CEO Keynote Interview at Routes Africa 2018, Ethiopian Airlines chief executive Tewolde GebreMariam outlines the carrier's strategy and how the dominance of non-African airlines in the continent can be challenged. Download the podcast now.

“This remarkable result was also achieved in the backdrop of aggressive foreign carriers’ penetration into the African market with the African airline industry collectively forecasted to lose money.”

Speaking at a press conference, GebreMariam said Ethiopian has expressed interest to partner in the launch of Nigeria Air.

Nigeria Air will begin operations in December 2018, the government’s aviation minister Hadi Sirika revealed during a ceremony at the Farnborough International Airshow in July.

The planned launch comes 15 years after long-standing flag carrier Nigeria Airways ceased operations and almost six years since Air Nigeria took to the skies for the final time.

Sirika said: “Nigeria has unfortunately not been a serious player in aviation for a long time. We used to be a dominant player, through Nigeria Airways, but sadly not anymore.”

He explained that the Nigerian government would not own more than 5 percent of the new carrier or have a say in how it is run.

In addition, Ethiopian Airlines is in the process of helping to revive Zambia’s national carrier, while it plans to acquire a 49 per cent stake in the new Chadian Airlines that is to be launched in October. The carrier is also backing start-up carrier Guinea Airlines.

Ethiopian's top ten routes by passengers in the 12 months to June 2018 (source: Sabre Market Intelligence): 

Route Passengers (year to June 2018) Year-on-year change 
ADD-DXB 397705 13.2%
ADD-MQX 277478 35.5%
ADD-NBO 325517 -4.6%
ADD-BOM 293335 5.5%
ADD-JNB 251190 19.0%
ADD-DIR 208183 34.4%
ADD-LOS 212053 20.7%
ADD-KRT 185288 37.2%
ADD-CAN 215420 9.1%
ADD-DUB 185418 20.0%