23 Dec 2019By : Nikos Krinis
We are thrilled with Ethiopian Airlines’ historic come-back to the Athens market after 18 years.” – Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam
Ethiopian Airlines (Ethiopian), the largest aviation group in Africa, recently resumed flights between Addis Ababa and Athens, which now marks the carrier’s 20th destination in Europe.
“An old friend has come back… As of December 13, Athens is directly connected with Addis Ababa and the African continent as a whole, through the airline’s rich and extended network, thus increasing significantly the connectivity of Athens and Greece,” Athens International Airport (AIA) Director of Communications & Marketing Ioanna Papadopoulou said during a press conference in Athens.
Following an 18-year gap, the thrice weekly flight to Athens is operated by the ultra-modern B787 Dreamliner.
“The fact that Ethiopian Airlines is once again connecting Athens with Addis Ababa, actually means that it connects it with the whole sub-Saharan Africa and South Africa, which means a huge increase of the interconnection of our city,” Papadopoulou added.
Group CEO: Now was the right time to return to Athens
“Athens used to be one of our main destinations and one of the oldest and unfortunately we suspended it in October 2001 as September 11 had shaken the whole world. There was a crisis all over the world and a change in Europe… But ever since then we have been thinking of coming back,” Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam told GTP Headlines.
Underlining that the historical relations between Greece and Ethiopia go back many thousands of years, GebreMariam said that now was the right time for Ethiopian to return.
“Greece is an important tourist destination and alot of people all over the world are interested to visit the country… Now that we fly to Greece, we are going to connect it with 126 destinations all over the world located in Asia, the Middle East and Africa… We can also connect Greece with Brazil and Argentina, which are very important destinations for us,” he said, adding that in a later stage, Ethiopian’s plans include connecting Greece with Australia.
Aim to establish daily Addis Ababa – Athens route
Ethiopian’s flight ET760 departs from Addis Ababa at 11.00pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, arriving in Athens at 3.00am the next day. (The flight then continues at 4.05 to Moscow, Russia, where it arrives at 8.20am.)
The return flight ET761 (which arrives from Moscow) departs from Athens on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 1.05am, arriving in Addis Ababa at 7.15am.
According to GebreMariam, the airline’s goal is for the Addis Ababa – Athens route to become daily.
“Since the route is shared with Moscow right now, I think the first order of business would be to seperate both because Moscow also wants a dedicated non stop flight. Right now Moscow has a stop in Athens… After a few months or perhaps a year (depending on passenger traffic), we will seperate Athens and Moscow and then both will go to daily,” he said.
Ethiopian sees phenomenal growth ahead of 2025 target year
Ethiopian is a multi-award winning airline that has become one of the continent’s leading carriers, unrivalled in efficiency and operational success.
“Our awards are the result of an extraordinary and remarkable achievement,” GebreMariam told GTP Headlines.
According to GebreMariam, the industry has recognized Ethiopian’s performance this past decade, which was based on a 15-year strategy roadmap.
In 2010 the airline launched its Vision 2025, a strategy that set out a number of goals, including growing to 90 international destinations, 120 aircraft and 22 million passengers.
The roadmap drew a line from China to Brazil and touched China, India, Africa and Brazil.
“Τhe location advantage for Ethiopian Airlines was tremendous, so as a result the potential was significant… We have achieved most of our goals ahead of time… Right now we have 127 destinations, including Athens; the number of aircraft is close to 130; our passengers have reached 20 million; and revenue this year is expected at around $5 billion,” he said.
GebreMariam, who was named Airline Executive of the Year at the CAPA conference in Malta this month, informed that since most of Ethiopian’s targets have been achieved, the plan will soon be revised to a new vision – Vision 2035 – another 15-year strategy roadmap.
It should be noted that Ethiopian operates one of the youngest fleets in the world.
“Our average fleet age is about five years and the global industry average is 12 years, offering convenience to the customer, new technology airplanes, and at the same time less carbon emissions,” GebreMariam said.
Moreover, aiming to combine the airline industry with sustainability, Ethiopian soon plans to launch its ‘Plant one tree for every passenger flown’ project. The initiative will aim for 9 million trees to be plnted in the name of Ethiopian Airlines in different regions of Ethiopia.