Star Alliance's stated intention of "bringing Africa to the world and the world to Africa" has been boosted by the entry of Ethiopian Airlines into its fold. The carrier formally joined the alliance in December, becoming its third African member.
The addition of Ethiopian expands Star's network in East, central and West Africa and brings with it 23 new destinations to its network. These include Chad, Djibouti and Niger. The carrier joins Star's existing partners in the region, EgyptAir and South African Airways.
"We have taken a large step forward in completing our African strategy," says Star Alliance outgoing chief executive Jan Albrecht. He says as a result of Ethiopian joining, Star now offers its passengers "the widest choice of flights connecting to, from and within Africa" out of the three global alliances. Star's African coverage now extends to 750 daily flights to more than 110 destinations in 48 countries.
Star Allliance partner Air China is looking to use these hubs to expand into what it sees as a promising market between Asia and Africa. Chairman Kong Dong says he expects his airline to launch direct routes to the continent in the next year or two.
Ethiopian is similarly effusive about the potential of this fledgling market and intends to develop further routes between Africa and Asia. Ethiopian's chief executive Teowolde Gebremariam says developing routes and frequencies between the two continents was the airline's principal growth objective.
He adds the Ethiopian flag carrier is studying possible routes to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Seoul and will use its soon-to-be delivered Boeing 787s to open these routes and existing destinations in Asia. Ethiopian will take delivery of the first of ten 787s, which marked its debut appearance in Africa at the accession ceremony, in 2012.