Addis Ababa emerges as the world's gateway into Africa

In the past few months thanks to major political reforms and relaxed visa rules, Ethiopia has arised as a destination and a transfer hub for long-haul travel to sub-Saharan Africa in 2018.

Data from the travel intelligence agency ForwardKeys shows that Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport has overtaken Dubai as the leading gateway to the region. As such, travel bookings between November 2018 and Febuary 2019 are set to grow over 40% based on a year-on-year growth—way ahead of other destinations in Africa and is a significant jump from the January-October 2018 predicted growth for Ethiopia which stood at just 12.2%.

The upswing is in large parts thanks to Ethiopian Airlines (ET), which has dominated Africa’s skies in the last decade. Through a mix of strategic investments and partnerships, efficient service delivery and airline acquisitions, the state carrier has reinvigorated air travel across the continent.

The airline has revived defunct African airlines including Zambia, partnered with airlines in Mozambique, Chad, established hubs in Malawi and Togo, and flies to more than 60 destinations across Africa. As the continent’s skies open up, its head Tewolde Gabremariam has also made no secret of the airline’s pan-African strategy suggesting that Ethiopian Airlines be co-owned by African governments.

To improve customer service, the airline is currently implementing Vision 2025, a plan that will see it increase airport services, expand its aviation academy and improve its passenger and cargo transport. It also set in motion a China-funded, $345m expansion plan at Addis Ababa’s Bole airport which is projected to raise the annual passenger capacity from 7 million to 22 million.

The rise of Bole airport and Ethiopian Airlines could also mean more direct transatlantic flights from North America with Addis Ababa as the first stop rather than London, Paris or Frankfurt.

Ethiopian Airlines also acted as an emblem of peace during these changing times flying to Asmara, Eritrea for the first time this century in July and resuming flights to Mogadishu, Somalia this month for the first time in 41 years.

Posted on : 21 Jan,2019

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