By SUCHAT SRITAMA
Meaza Taye, regional manager for Thailand and Southeast Asia, said the airline would operate a connecting Bangkok-Hanoi flight from November. It also plans to add connecting routes through Bangkok to Singapore and Jakarta by March next year.
Currently, the airline operates seven flights a week between Addis Ababa and Bangkok, with three connecting flights per week to Kuala Lumpur and four a week to Manila.
“We are pushing Thailand as a new hub into Southeast Asia. Bangkok will play this role,” she said.
The main passenger targets in Southeast Asia are people working for construction and mining companies in Ethiopia, while tourists, particularly free independent travellers, are an emerging market.
Among African airlines operating in Southeast Asia, which also include Kenya Airways, South African Airways and EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines has 35-40 per cent of the market. Average load factor on the Bangkok-Addis Ababa route is 75-80 per cent.
Taye said the Boeing 767s flying Ethiopian Airlines’ Southeast Asia routes would be replaced by Boeing Dreamliners.
The national airline of Ethiopia began a major corporate campaign in Southeast Asia last year by organising a special flight to Bangkok with an all-female crew, including the pilots.
This year, the airline will continue promote itself as part of its 70th-anniversary celebration, as Ethiopia is one of the emerging destinations in Africa. Highlight attractions include the country’s long and unique history, its culture, and natural sites like active volcanoes.
The airline has unveiled a 10-year plan for 2016-2025 for future growth. By 2025, it aims to increase annual revenue from US$2.4 billion (Bt85 billion) to $10 billion and profit from $172 million to $1 billion. During the period, it plans to increase its international flights from 91 to 120 as well as to increase its fleet from 76 to 140.
The number of passengers is expected to climb from 6.4 million to 22 million in 10 years.
The airline is constructing a new catering building and expanding its academy to boost pilot and crew training.