There is still potential for commercial African airlines to exploit opportunities in the airspace, a top official of Ethiopian Airlines has said.
Regional manager Abebe Angessa says investors who fear to join in the aviation industry in Africa are making a blunder.
“The traffic in Africa is increasing by the day. But the question is: how many passengers are using native African national carriers? It is true that the aviation business is struggling, but if an aviation company strategizes, one can succeed,” he said at the unveiling of Ethiopian Airlines’ Airbus A350XWB at Entebbe airport recently.
He added: “Incoming and outgoing traffic by local carriers makes only 18 per cent of all aviation activities in Africa. I think Africa is underestimated.”
He said that by bringing new aircraft, Ethiopian Airlines is trying to maintain a programme of improving its business.
“Ethiopian Airlines is currently implementing at 15-year strategic plan called Vision 2025 that will see the company become a leading aviation in Africa. And to do this, we always have to invest heavily in the state-of-art air carriers,” he said.
At the launch, Angessa said Ethiopia airlines is pleased to take a lead role in Africa and has become among the few airlines to invest in the latest technology in the aviation industry.
“Operating the youngest fleet in the industry, and with the introduction of Africa’s first A350, which will provide new features such as wider seats in both business and economy class, we are going to be better in the industry,” he said.
He explained that the 360-passenger aircraft will enable the airline to expand their services, especially on long flights. Benon Kajuna, the director of transport at the ministry of Works and Transport, said government decided to expand Entebbe airport to enable larger carriers to land there.
“The government has a $200m programme to upgrade and expand airport infrastructure to accommodate more local and international airlines. We also plan to open up other airports in Kabale, Hoima, and airdromes in Gulu and Arua,” he said.