Betting big on India’s booming aviation market which has outperformed the US and China in terms of domestic passengers traffic growth, Africa’s leading carrier Ethiopian Airlines plans to expand its operations in India with new flights and aircraft upgrade.
The pan-African flag carrier currently operates a daily double service to New Delhi and Mumbai from capital city Addis Ababa. It also operates freighter services to Chennai, Bengaluru, New Delhi and Mumbai.
The airline is currently in talks with the Indian civil aviation authorities including the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in this regard, Ethiopian Airline’s CEO Tewolde Gebremariam told PTI in Addis Ababa.
“We are looking forward to launch flight operations to Chennai from Ethiopia. We are keenly looking at (flying) passengers from Chennai,” Gebremariam said without specifying a timeline for commencement of the proposed new fight.
Ethiopian Airlines is already operating 14 flights per week to Delhi and Mumbai each, he added.
India and Ethiopia had signed a pact last year, allowing the carriers of two sides to scale up weekly flight entitlements to 28 from 21.
Under the pact, Ethiopia was also allowed to exchange Bangalore in place of Kolkata as a point of call.
Three additional domestic code share points exclusively to code share with Air India were also granted for Jaipur, Kolkata and Pune.
Both Air India and Ethiopia are part of the 27-member international airline’s club, Star Alliance and have code-share pact as well.
Code-sharing of flights allows an airline to book its passengers on its partner carriers and provide seamless transport to multiple destinations where it has no presence.
“Air India is our Star Alliance member and we have contributed a lot for India because of our long time association. We are now looking to expand the alliance (code share with Air India),” Gebremariam said.
According to the International Air Transport Association, air traffic in India grew by 19.4 per cent between January and June last year, the highest amongst top seven domestic airline markets in the world, outstripping China that grew 12.3 per cent and the US 3.7 per cent in the same period.
Globally, Ethiopian Airline operates to 111 destinations including 91 international with a fleet of 68 Boeing aircraft, making it one of the largest and only profitable African carrier.