Ethiopian Airlines considering partnerships with Indian Airlines

Africa’s largest carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, is seeking business partnerships with Indian low-cost carriers such as IndiGo and SpiceJet. In addition, Ethiopian Airlines is also evaluating the prospects for setting up its aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul facility in India.

The airline already has a codeshare agreement with India’s national carrier Air India and a special pro-rata agreement with Vistara. Currently, the airline offers non-stop flights to Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai. Additionally, the airline’s cargo subsidiary, Ethiopian Airlines Cargo, operates cargo services to Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai and New Delhi.

The Importance of India

Ethiopian Airlines has a long-standing relationship with India. It recently completed an impressive 50 years of flight operations in Mumbai – with the first flight being back in December 1971. Flight operations from Addis Ababa to Delhi will soon reach the 60 year milestone as Ethiopian Airlines started the route in 1966. The airline added Bengaluru to its route network in late 2019.

When India announced the lifting of restrictions on international flights, the African carrier immediately announced the resumption of three times weekly passenger flights to Bangalore. The other two Indian destinations were also quickly picked up, signifying India’s vital importance to the airline, as Ethiopian Airlines’ Regional Manager for the Indian subcontinent, Tigist Eshetu, pointed out:

“India is one of our strategic markets in Asia, and we have been providing essential air connectivity between India and Africa for decades. It is one of the key destinations for Ethiopian Airlines passenger and cargo services.

As one of its major markets, Ethiopian Airlines expects a high recovery rate, especially with the restoration of passenger capacity. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | single flight

To further illustrate what India brings to Ethiopian Airlines, around 39% of passenger traffic on the Mumbai route comes from work travel, followed by business and corporate travel which accounts for around 30%. The percentage is higher on the Delhi route, where 55% are business and leisure passengers.

Up to 90% of passengers traveling from India are transit passengers who travel further afield to online airline points in Africa, mainly to Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Zambia, India. Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Zimbabwe and Botswana, among others. Thus, Ethiopian Airlines wants to partner with two of India’s largest low-cost carriers to increase passenger capacity and route connectivity, as confirmed by Eshetu:

“India has always been its strategic market since 1966, we wish to continue to serve India with improved capacities. However, the COVID-induced restrictions have hampered the moderate amount of frequency the airline used to operate. We are now operating much lower but are optimistic that services will return to pre-COVID levels.”

Expand routes

In addition to seeking business partnerships for extended reach in India, Ethiopian Airlines also plans to expand its route network in the country. Beginning flight services to Chennai on July 2, the new three times weekly flight service will use either the airline’s Boeing 737 MAX or Boeing 787 Dreamliner, depending on initial market demand.

Increased flight frequency and number of gateways in India will facilitate trade, investment and tourism to/from Africa and India. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | single flight

Flight services to Ahmedabad and Hyderabad will also be on the airline’s radar in the future, a sure sign of a massive expansion plan underway despite the residual effects of the pandemic, as Esethu mentioned:

“The Ethiopian side is interested in improving frequency and entry points. We believe the Indian side will also be on the same page as the increase in demand is coming from both sides.”

As for having an MRO facility in India, it would make sense for the airline to consider such an option, especially as it seeks to partner with a few low-cost national carriers. Currently, Ethiopian MRO provides technical assistance to Ethiopian Flight and third-party customers on aircraft maintenance programs, task card engineering, aircraft systems engineering, aircraft maintenance planning and maintenance checks. recording, as well as tool engineering.


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