Monday, March 21, 2011

Ethiopian Airlines to open its third hub in Lusaka, Zambia

African aviation gigantic, Ethiopian Airlines, will soon open its third hub in Lusaka-Zambia, which will serve as a southern African regional center.

Making the announcement at the Ethiopian Airlines headquarters in Addis Ababa on Friday, chief executive officer Tewolge Gebremariam said Zambia had been selected to host the airline's regional centre owing to increased traffic demand and its geographical location.

“I am pleased to say that we plan to open our new hub in Zambia. This will be the third hub after the headquarters and another one which was opened in Lome (Togo, west Africa) last year.”

“Zambia is a major commercial destination and we recognize that we have the highest market share in your country,” he said.

Gebremariam further said the airline would this year introduce a direct flight between Lusaka and Addis Ababa without diverting to Harare.

“That plan is already underway, but we are waiting for our new 737-800 planes to arrive which will service that route,” he said. And Gebremariam announced that Ethiopian Airlines made a US $123 million in net profit last year.

He said the success recorded in 2010 had enabled the airline to add three new 777-200 Long Range (LR) Boeing aircraft to its fleet.

“We spent about US $750 million to purchase our new 777-200 LR jets. These are very successful Boeings with the main advantage of flying over 17 hours nonstop. The new jets will service the Addis Ababa - Beijing route,” Gebremariam said.

He further said Ethiopian Airlines had started the process of transforming to Ethiopian Aviation Group which shall consist of a group of companies with their respective profit centres providing passenger and cargo air transportation, aviation training, flight catering, maintenance and overhaul services.

He said this was contained in the Airline's vision 2025, which would also see passenger handling increase from the current estimation of 3 million to 18 million per year.

Meanwhile Gebremariam bemoaned the sharp increase in jet fuel prices owing to the unrest in Libya and other oil-producing countries.

“It will be very difficult for us to beat the US $123 million profit recorded last year because of the increase in jet fuel price from US $800 per barrel to US$1,110. This is mainly because of civil unrest in the Middle East and other oil-producing nations,” said Gebremariam.