Ethiopian Airlines is the biggest selling brand in Africa and that brand is used effectively to uplift businesses especially tourism. In this report ANTHONY OMOH looks at how the airline has created an intricate web, connecting tourism and other aspects of the Ethiopian economy and how it wants to grow this strategy to encapsulate all of Africa and strengthen the region as against the current traffic, trade imbalance.
FROM aviation to tourism to other extensive business opportunities, Ethiopia as a nation seems to be getting something right by using its strongest selling point, Ethiopian Airlines, to evolve, support and sustain businesses around the country especially in the hospitality and tourism sectors.
Currently, Ethiopia Airlines contributes about 4 per cent to the country’s GDP. Ethiopia’s annual GDP in terms of US dollars, is about $350bn and the airline’s annual revenue is about $4.5bn to this GDP which is impressive and the airline seems to want to do more.
No wonder it is mapping out initiatives to provide for hundreds of thousands of guests annually, and in the last year was able to drive tourism into the country with over a million visits rapidly growing over the last three years.
It wasn’t always like this though, as the airline struggled in the 80s and earlier 90s, but with strategic long term plans, Ethiopia restructured its aviation sub-sector, and in 10 years, Ethiopian Airline took the continent of Africa by storm becoming the single largest aviation company in the continent.
At a time when carriers, both government-owned and private-owned are going under in the region, while some are dying still birth; Ethiopian Airlines has stayed up because of its far- reaching vision and it’s incredible succession plan, enabling it to compete with the legacy carriers who seem to have partitioned Africa, taking up over 80% of the continent’s market.
The airline with prudent management and a shrewd business plan became a member of Star Alliance, opening to itself, the opportunity to airlift passengers and freight cargo around the world, while becoming a focal point in Africa.
Currently, the airline, a truly African run airline, despite the views portrayed around the world has clawed its way from the doldrums it was in the 80s and 90s to becomes he fourth airline with the highest number of routes with 81 after Turkish Airways (121), Air France (91), British Airways (82).
What is most amazing is the way the carrier is sustaining the Ethiopian economy by stretching out to create employment through its vibrant Maintenance Repair and Overhaul ( MRO) facility, Catering facility, linking aviation to destinations around Ethiopia while showing that synergy that should exist between aviation and tourism.
Delving into hospitality
On January 28, 2019, the airline opened to public, it’s US$65 million five-star hotel, Ethiopian Skylight Hotel, a 373 guest room comprising 27 Presidential and Executive suites, three bars, three restaurants, an amazing ball room, a luxurious out door swimming pool, a mini golf course among others, the hotel was inaugurated during the African Union Heads of States’ Annual summit.
The hotel situated near Bole International Airport was opened by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed along with Chair person Africa Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamet, is used to entice transit passengers and others on Ethiopian Airlines to explore the country’s rich historical heritage and give them the time the time of their lives.
As part of efforts to support the airline, Ethiopian Skylight Hotel earmarks 70/80 of its 373 guest rooms to Business Class transit partners, giving them an opportunity to experience Ethiopia depending on their transit time.
The Hotel equally has conference centers, gyms, spas and a 3000 square meters fully function Grand Ball Room, taking a capacity of 2,500 sitting and 3,500 cocktail.
Managing director Ethiopian International Services, Mr. Esayas Woldermariam Haliu who spoke on how Ethiopian Airlines is supporting and growing tourism, said the airline is the largest destination marketer in the region.
According to him, the airline is helping to fly in passengers and potential tourists from all over the world and showcase its 22 destinations to them
Woldermariam said, “Of course they (aviation and tourism) go hand in hand, Ethiopia has got more than 10 UNESCO registered tourism sites, even with the sheer count of this Ethiopia stands as one of the few countries on the planet with the number of UNESCO registered heritage sites. ”
“So, this shows that as being one of the ancient civilizations on the continent, there is a lot of history, castles, obelisk, churches, mosques and also culture and wild life and nature to see. So Ethiopia airlines has established one of the largest domestic route networks on the continent of Africa . ”
“So we bring tourists from our international network, from Tokyo to Toronto from Seoul to São Paulo we bring them to Addis and broadcast them to the 22 destinations so that has been helping to develop tourism, which is one of the fastest growing supporters of Ethiopian economy,” he said.
Relationship with other business in travels and tours
In conjunction with tour operators there are various resorts that Ethiopia wants visitors to see, one of such is the scenic, natural and man-made beauty of the Kuriftu Resorts and Spa.
This amazing facility which boasts of 89 rooms with four-presidential suites has an ambiance of old traditional country, with traditionally made oak furniture of exquisite taste and masonry artistry.
As part of the trend to get Ethiopians busy, this13 year old facility employs 500 staff and over 250 on part time basis to bring alive a traditional life as best known to the natives.
The facility boasts of four conference halls, the Balambaraj which has a capacity of 350 participants at once while it has the Mintwuab which takes 50 participants and the Tiruwork which can take 30 participants.
Most times relaxation needs deliberate efforts and so its spa services set to awake the senses and take the guest into a world of relaxation pleasure does its utmost.
Currently, Kuriftu is building a cultural village as well as the first water park and largest amusement park in East Africa.
The entire country is poised and working in tandem to provide a country wanting of nothing and steadily growing to become a world powerhouse, in aviation and tourism.
How to strengthen the African region through internal trade and connectivity
The airline, Ethiopian Airlines is fighting tooth and nail to link more cities in Africa and force a liberalization that has been dormant since 1988, which it feels will enable Africa keep and control its market and in turn control the regions economy.
This, the airline’s management mused, will enable trade within the continent as the European market is saturated and Africa still has far-reaching potential and the only way kit can harness that potential is first to create trade with each other and grow all their economies instead of allowing the massive rape of its resources through divisive agreements with non-Africans.
“SAATM is a very good solution for Africa to put its hands together, organize itself together and to thrive, so SAATM is the best thing that can happen to Africa because air traffic connectivity is a tool for economy, cultural exchange, tourism, regional tourism as well as people and goods transaction.
“Africa has been transacting with overseas 90% and only 10% local economic transaction, why? Africa needs to but and sell with each other, we need to do business with each other, so for that instead of building 30,000km rail and road, just 3km if runway can connect people and goods in the continent of Africa, as simple as that to start with,” Haliu said