Ethiopian Airlines bets high on customer increase.

By Lee Hyo-sik

Ethiopian Dreamliner KoreaEthiopian Airlines, founded in 1946, is betting high on the increasing travel demand between Korea and Africa as more leisure travelers here choose to visit the continent. Growing business exchanges between the two have also boosted the number of Korean visitors to Africa, according to the head of the carrier in Korea.

In a recent interview with The Korea Times, Solomon Debebe Kebere, Ethiopian Airlines’ country general manager in Korea, said that Ethiopia’s national carrier will act as a bridge between Korea and Africa.

“It was not an easy decision to fly to Korea from Africa, given there wasn’t much travel demand. But we decided to do so, believing that the air traffic will soon explode between the two,’’ Kebere said. “The passenger increase has been slow so far, but more Koreans will visit Ethiopia and other parts of Africa in the near future as a leisure destination.’’

The carrier, wholly owned by the Ethiopian government, launched the Incheon-Hong Kong-Addis Ababa route in June 2013. It operates a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, capable of carrying 270 passengers.

The company operates flights four times a week, which take about 15 hours, including a one hour layover in Hong Kong. Ethiopian Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance and has a code sharing program with Asiana Airlines.

“Ethiopia and other African nations in general are little known in Korea. Koreans do not know much about us,’’ the country manager said. “The travel demand between Korea and Africa is very low, but things will pick up soon when we look at what’s been happening between Africa and China. More and more Chinese visit the continent for business or leisure. The same thing will happen in Korea.’’

On average, 120 passengers board the Ethiopian Airlines flight to and from Incheon, he said, adding that of the 120, about 50 go all the way to Addis Ababa or beyond to different parts of Africa. Most of the passengers are Korean nationals.

Read more at: Korea Times

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