ADDIS ABABA: January 05, 2017. Ethiopian Airlines is to begin flying three times a week with a B787-800 to Chengdu from June 03, 2017. In 1973 the airline became the first African carrier and the fourth in the world to operate to China. Currently it flies daily to Beijing, 10 times a week to Guangzhou and six times to Hong Kong.
Chengdu is a major hub for Air China and the flight is designed to link Ethiopian's Africa network via its "Chinese-friendly" hub at Addis Ababa to Shenzhen, Kunming, Hangzhou, Xiamen, Wuhan, Changsha, and Urumqi.
The new service follows "another year of fast and profitable growth" despite an exceptionally challenging year for the African Aviation industry, according to airline CEO Tewolde GebreMariam:
"Commodity exporting countries in general and oil exporting African countries in particular have been hit hard by the global decline of commodity prices. As a result, demand for air travel has been suppressed and the shortage of foreign exchange has severely affected the financial performance of airlines in the continent," he explained.
Although volatile on a monthly basis, African carriers' international traffic held on to the gains seen during Q3 said IATA, with annual growth in international FTKs rising 12.8 percent in November.
IATA noted that capacity continued to grow "far faster" than demand, driven by rapid long-haul expansion "particularly by Ethiopian Airlines". As a result Africa airlines' overall international load factor fell in November for the 19th consecutive month to an all-time low of just 26.1 percent.
In 2016 Ethiopian celebrated its 70th anniversary with the introduction of the first of 14 A350s (right) plus new services to the Comoros Islands, Windhoek (Namibia) and Newark, NJ. The airline also nearly completed its new US$150 million cargo terminal due to open in April this year with the capacity to handle eight B747-8 freighters simultaneously and an annual throughput of 1.2 million tonnes.
Ethiopian remains Africa's largest indigenous cargo carrier with a fleet of six B777-200 and two B757-260 freighters serving 36 points in Asia and EMEA. The airline said its average daily uplift last year was 650 tons on freighter aircraft plus an additional 150 tons on passenger flights to 90 destinations worldwide.
The new cargo terminal is part of the airline's 'Vision 2025', supporting a planned operation of 18 all-cargo aircraft serving 47 cities linking Asia with Africa and Europe as an alternate hub to the Gulf: "Despite the sluggish growth in the world's matured market, all of our 12,000 colleagues remained focused on the robust execution of our vision 2025, which has proved to be a winning strategy in today's hyper-competitive and complex airline business," said GebreMariam.
Ethiopian Airlines will add another destination to its network from March 28, 2017 when it begins flying three times a week from Addis Ababa to Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar.