In a few days, the eight-year Buhari administration will come to an end, and the Nigerian aviation industry has had both positive and negative experiences.
The positive developments include investments in a national carrier (Nigeria Air), new airport terminals, and new aircraft for the Nigerian Airforce for air defence and air space protection, among others
On the other hand, the industry has experienced setbacks such as travel bans during and after COVID-19, strikes by workers, a rise in aviation fuel prices, difficulties in foreign airlines repatriating funds due to dollar shortages, a significant increase in the cost of pilot training, drop in revenue due to passengers seeking alternatives to pricey tickets and foreign airlines boycotting Nigeria.
Despite these challenges, the incoming administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the president-elect, does not have any specific plans to address these issues in the aviation industry.
However, there are opportunities for the new administration to learn from the Ethiopian aviation industry, which has experienced significant growth and success, and implement strategies to improve the sector in Africa’s largest economy.
Insights on the Ethiopian Aviation Industry
Ethiopia’s aviation industry leads Africa, with a modern aircraft fleet serving over 145 destinations worldwide, giving it an advantage in accessing local markets. Ethiopian Airlines has received numerous awards, including Best Airline in Africa for five consecutive years, and has expanded its services to include Arabic and French.
Ethiopian Airlines, the country’s national carrier is part of the Star Alliance and has registered average growth of 25% per annum over the past seven years. The airline operates Africa and the Middle East’s largest MRO service, providing world-class services to ensure safe and dependable flights.
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Ethiopian Airlines has invested in expanding its fleet with the A350-1000, which has advanced aerodynamics, carbon-fibre construction, and fuel-efficient engines. The airline is also expanding its cargo network to include Xiamen and Shenzhen, with CEO Mesfin Tasew highlighting the role of improved air connectivity in facilitating global trade
“As the largest cargo network operator in Africa and a key air cargo service provider globally, Ethiopian Airlines will continue expanding its services around the world by opening new routes and increasing flight frequencies so as to facilitate global trade and the flow of goods,” Tasew said.
Additionally, the airline has invested $15 million in expanding its in-flight catering capacity to produce 100,000 meals a day and offer a range of world cuisines; Italian, Chinese, Vegan, Indian, etc. Ethiopian Airlines has also established an ultra-luxurious five-star hotel, the Ethiopian Skylight Hotel, which includes 373 rooms, restaurants, bars, a swimming pool, and a gym.
Ethiopian Airlines partners with commercial aircraft manufacturers like Boeing, GE, and Airbus, as well as Sabre Corporation, a leading software and technology provider for the travel industry. Sabre offers retailing, distribution, and fulfilment solutions that connect travel suppliers with buyers worldwide.
Ethiopian Airlines also has strategic partnerships with Star Alliance and Codeshare Partners, as well as airlines such as ASKY, Malawi Airlines, and CEIBA Intercontinental Airlines.
These partnerships have opened new markets and connected Ethiopia to the world, boosting the economy and contributing to the country’s employment, tourism, and trade. Ethiopian Airlines is one of Africa’s largest and most profitable airlines.
Ethiopian Airlines has been expanding its infrastructure to support its growth. The government has built new airports throughout the country, with a goal of increasing the total number to 25 by 2020. Currently, there are 21 airports in Ethiopia and Bole International in Addis Ababa is the biggest; with flights to 109 destinations in 64 countries.
Ethiopian Airlines has also completed a new passenger terminal at its hub Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, with emphasis on BioSecurity and BioSafety measures. The terminal is equipped with sixty check-in counters, thirty self-check-in kiosks, and sixteen central security screening areas.
Additionally, the airline has invested $100 million in expanding and upgrading its aviation academy, making it the largest and most advanced in Africa. It has also invested $100 million in a new cargo terminal to increase its cargo-carrying capacity to 1 million tons.
Ethiopian is currently implementing a 15-year strategic plan called Vision2025 that will see it become the leading airline group in Africa with seven strategic business units.