Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Since taking over as Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines in 2011, Tewolde Gebremariam has been busy overseeing Vision 2025 – an ambitious 15-year strategic – programme that calls for Ethiopian to become the largest carrier in Africa, with a USD 10 billion annual turnover and four hubs to cover the four corners of the continent.
These are some tough targets, but progress has been in the right direction. In 2013, Ethiopian became the largest African carrier by revenue and profit according to IATA, with revenues topping USD 2.3 billion – the first time in its 69 year history the Ethiopian flag carrier has overtaken rival South African Airways.
Capital’s Teguest Yilma talked to Tewolde while he was attending in New Delhi the first Star Alliance Chief Executive Board Meeting (CEB) hosted by Air India (who joined Star Alliance group in June this year) about his company’s vision. Excerpts:
Capital: What does Air India joining Star Alliance mean for Ethiopian Airlines?
Tewolde Gebremariam: It means quite a lot because India has a big global aviation market, in fact the fifth largest. The connection between India and many African nations is not as strong as it used to be and with Ethiopian Airlines now serving both New Delhi and Mumbai daily and India being a big subcontinent with many domestic connections that are critical, Air India joining the group has increased that much connectivity for passengers. Now you know, passengers connecting from any part of India, like Mumbai, New Delhi, and other regions can access 49 destinations in Africa, it’s as simple as connecting to any flight from anywhere to everywhere.
Capital: How has Ethiopian benefited from joining Star Alliance?
Tewolde: Network wise, there is quite a lot of benefit because we have 84 destinations in five continents and a lot of this growth has occurred over the last eight years. Star Alliance has more than 18,500 flights a day to 193 countries to 1,321 airports, so that gives us the coverage that we would not be able to have on our own, no matter how fast we grow. Simple things like connectivity bring enormous benefits. There are 27 Star Alliance members and we all share costs. Last summer we started operating in terminal 2 of Heathrow Airport (London) so that all Star Alliance members are in one terminal there and it’s the same thing in Beijing; and this brings cost-sharing advantages. Joint sourcing is another initiative. The exchange of mileage is a huge benefit for our customers because they can purchase tickets from different member airlines with miles earned on other airlines. They can also upgrade and purchase free tickets and that is a huge advantage to our customers. For gold members, being able to share lounge space globally is a big advantage. You can wait for your flight in any Star Alliance lounge whether it is in New York or Washington or LA or London or Frankfurt, you can use the lounges of any member airlines.
Read more at: Capital