Ethiopian Airlines has a safety record spanning 70 years and has been hailed as Africa’s best aviation carrier. Winning many awards to this effect.
In spite of the recent crash of flight 302, confidence in the airline has not dwindled with passengers still flying at record numbers, a testament to how the carrier has distinguished itself in terms of safety.
Ethiopian Airlines perhaps is one of the best representations of potential in African aviation. The carrier has been consistently adding hubs all around Africa as well as to Asia, the United States and Canada.
Presently, there are 731 airports and 419 airlines across the continent with an aviation industry that supports around 6.9 million jobs and USD $80 billion in economic activity.
Nevertheless, varying factors encumber growth and progress in African aviation.
Poor infrastructure is high up on the list considering that the conditions of a large number of runways are discouraging to potential investors.
Routes are still not as connected as they should be for example to get to Abidjan from Dar-El-salaam, Tanzania one would have to fly to Nairobi, Kenya then finally to Abidjan and in some cases there may be a stop over in Accra, Ghana.
Routes that more open and connected promote local tourism within the continent and increase flights.
Another impeding factor is overpriced jet fuel, which result in high-ticket prices, which in turn discourage travellers.
On January 2019, the African Union launched the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), signed by 28 of the AU members, including Ethiopia. The SAATM is a deregulated airspace, which allows aircraft to fly freely between the 28 AU member states that have agreed to the initiative.
Currently, a large number of countries have regulations that do not allow for foreign investors in their national carriers. But if they open it up to foreign investors they stand a chance to have mutually beneficial partnerships that create stronger carriers, build greater efficiency, higher revenue and better quality service that demand financial discipline and eliminate corruption. Which is demonstrated by Ethiopia who has acquired stake in a number of African carriers that were previously shrinking.
Despite the recent crash which claimed the lives of all the 157 people on board, other carriers on the continent can still look at the Ethiopian airlines model and build carriers that strengthen the global ranking of African aviation.
Ethiopian Airlines has a fleet of 108 planes Boeing being their favorite. They became the first African airline to order and fly the Boeing 720B. This move helped the carrier’s expansion strategy. They acquired a Boeing 720 B simulator and slowly set themselves apart and soon after established their prestigious flight school.
When it comes to maintenance and repair overhaul (MRO) which is an essential requirement to ensure that aircrafts are maintained in pre-determined conditions of airworthiness to safely transport passengers and cargo, Ethiopian airlines has the largest MRO service in Africa and serves both Africa and the Middle East.
Their MRO provides Line Maintenance services at all stations where Ethiopian flies and extends the services to other operators at some of the stations most dependable and safest airlines in the world.
They are presently flying to five of China’s largest cities. And recently they partnered with CellPoint Mobile to accept payment via Alipay, China’s leading alternative payment method.
They are working tirelessly with other African countries to expand and revive dead carriers. They are operating in Chad, Guinea, and Mozambique with a less than 45% stake meaning the countries still control a the larger percentage of their national carriers stake.
Unlike other African countries, Ethiopian airlines is run strictly as a business with no hands of politics influencing policies. This is one of the reasons they have managed to make huge leaps in the industry.