May 23, 2017
Ethiopian Airlines’ Business-Class Goals Hit by Airbus Delay
By: Richard Weiss
→ Africa’s biggest carrier expanding rapidly despite turmoil
Ethiopian Airlines was betting Airbus SE’s new A350 widebody would help it lure lucrative business-class passengers away from the likes of Emirates, but nagging delivery issues are putting Africa’s largest carrier behind schedule.
The airline won’t receive 10 new planes by the end of June as planned, with some coming as late as next year, Thomas Gabreyohannes, the carrier’s director for Germany and central Europe, said in an interview. Ethiopian is counting on the A350s to increase sales of premium tickets, similar to the boost it saw after becoming the first African airline to fly Boeing Co.’s 787 long-haul Dreamliners.
“When we received the Dreamliner, our business-class traffic jumped,” Gabreyohannes said in Frankfurt. “We hope the A350 will have the same impact.”
The delay represents a stumbling block for state-owned Ethiopian, which despite regional political unrest and violence, is increasingly challenging bigger rivals that have extensive African routes. Ethiopian has built one of Africa’s rare corporate success stories with the continent’s only consistently profitable airline shuttling passengers from around the world to more than 50 African cities in addition to dozens of destinations in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, mimicking models like that of Dubai-based Emirates.