Ethiopia air­port es­tab­lished as gate­way to sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa

The National - News - - BUSINESS - THE NA­TIONAL

Spurred by Ethiopia’s air travel ex­pan­sion ef­forts and pub­lic pol­icy re­forms, Ad­dis Ababa is now the lead­ing tran­sit hub for long-haul pas­sen­gers to sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa.

Ad­dis Ababa air­port has in­creased the num­ber of in­ter­na­tional trans­fer pas­sen­gers to the re­gion for five years in a row.

This year it ad­di­tion­ally be­came the lead­ing trans­fer hub for long-haul travel to sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa, said For­wardKeys, a Span­ish travel con­sul­tancy.

The com­pany an­a­lysed data from travel book­ing sys­tems, which record an av­er­age of 17 mil­lion flight book­ings a day, to de­ter­mine the num­ber of long-haul trans­fers to the re­gion via Ad­dis Ababa.

It found the num­ber had surged 85 per cent from 2013 to 2017. So far this year, Ad­dis Ababa’s traf­fic growth is 18 per cent.

Ethopia has now passed Dubai, the world’s busiest air­port by in­ter­na­tional traf­fic and the third-busiest by pas­sen­ger traf­fic, as the lead­ing gate­way for travel to sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa.

Dubai re­mains the pre­mier hub tran­sit­ing pas­sen­gers be­tween East and West and is the home of Emi­rates air­line. Those trav­el­ling to Africa from Asia or Europe most of­ten con­nect through Dubai.

Ethiopian Air­lines, the largest avi­a­tion group in Africa, has just passed the mid­point of its 15-year strat­egy to build mar­ket share on routes to and from Africa – a plan that is start­ing to bear re­sults.

The air­line is also in­tro­duc­ing new African routes to rapidly ex­pand and tar­get lu­cra­tive Asian mar­kets, ac­cord­ing to Reuters.

For­wardKeys also cred­ited the steady in­crease in book­ings via Ad­dis Ababa in part to a pos­i­tive in­ter­na­tional re­sponse to the broad re­forms that have been in­tro­duced by Ethiopian Prime Min­is­ter Abiy Ahmed.

Af­ter com­ing to power in April he has set about trans­form­ing pol­i­tics in the Horn of Africa coun­try of about 105 mil­lion peo­ple.

It cited two re­forms in par­tic­u­lar: al­low­ing vis­i­tors to ap­ply for visas on­line; and Mr Ahmed’s com­mit­ment to open­ing Ethiopia’s econ­omy, which is for the most part state-con­trolled, to for­eign in­vest­ment.

Af­ter Mr Ahmed made peace with Eritrea to end a two-decade state of war, Ethiopian re­sumed flights to its neigh­bour in July.

This month, it re­launched flights to So­ma­lia’s cap­i­tal af­ter four decades, ac­cord­ing to Reuters.

The rise of travel to and from Ad­dis Ababa shows no signs of let­ting up.

In­ter­na­tional book­ings via Ethiopia are up 40 per cent year-on-year for No­vem­ber to Jan­uary 2019, ahead of all other des­ti­na­tions in Africa, For­wardKeys said.

Ethiopian Air­lines, the largest avi­a­tion group in Africa, has just passed the mid­point of its 15-year strat­egy to build mar­ket share to and from Africa

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