– To buy 50 light aircraft
The national flag carrier is contemplating the idea to provide high-end comfortable charter and scheduled flight services with light aircraft that have 10-20 seats each. The airline is planning to buy about 50 light aircraft in the new year.
A new separate division within the airline will manage the charter flight service, according to officials of the airlines. The airline targets tourists, mining and construction companies as potential customers.
A senior executive of Ethiopian yesterday told The Reporter that the airline marketing department was conducting research on the charter flight service in Ethiopia for the past one year. “We have noted a big market potential. It is a big market that will grow even further,” the executive said.
According to the senior official, Ethiopia’s economy has been growing in double digits for the past couple of years and this has stimulated the demand for air travel, and particularly charter flight service. “We want to provide a comfortable, and reliable charter flight services for high-end customers.”
The airlines anticipates to provide the charter flight service for tourists that travel to different parts of the country, oil and mining companies conducting geological surveys in remote parts of the country and also construction firms undertaking major projects in remote areas. “We will deploy an adequate number of comfortable aircraft. We will provide a dependable service,” he told The Reporter.
The airlines has finalized the study and will float an international tender for the supply of light aircraft in 2015. The light aircraft will also provide scheduled domestic flight services. At the beginning the airlines will buy at least 20 light aircraft but the number of light aircraft that the airlines will phase in for the new division could reach 50 eventually.
Ethiopian Airlines provides charter cargo and passenger flight services in Ethiopia and abroad with big aircraft. But this is for the first time when it starts to provide a full-fledged charter flight services with light aircraft.
Industry analysts fear that the move by Ethiopian could put the small private airlines operating in Ethiopia in a difficult situation. “With an excellent track record and big capacity, Ethiopian could easily wipe out the private operators from the market,” an aviation industry analyst told The Reporter. A private operator The Reporter talked to said that the charter flight service is a small market that should be left to the small private airlines. “Ethiopian is a big airline that competes with mega international airlines. It is unfair to fight for the small pie with small private airline. They do not want us to exist,” he said.
A senior official at Ethiopian, on his part, said, “This does not concern us. We have studied the market and we want to provide a world-class service to customers.”
Source: The Reporter