Ethiopian Airlines steps up hunt for African connections

NAIROBI/ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopian Airlines is accelerating its strategy of weaving a patchwork of new African routes to soak up traffic on the continent and fly customers towards its more lucrative flights to rapidly expanding Asian markets.

FILE PHOTO: Ethiopian Airlines’ newly acquired Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, with a seating capacity of 400 passengers, arrives at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia November 8, 2013. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo
With a long-delayed African “open skies” revolution still mired in red tape, Ethiopian has been snapping up stakes in small carriers around the continent to pre-empt potential rivals and become the dominant pan-African airline.

The carrier is in talks with Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Republic and Djibouti about either launching airlines or securing landing spots, CEO Tewolde GebreMariam told Reuters.

He also said in May the airline was looking to set up carriers in Equatorial Guinea and Guinea through joint ventures.

“The task of African integrati on is not easy,” Tewolde said in an interview. “The context is the need for air transport. There is huge demand. We are responding to it.”

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