Well-managed airlines will accelerate AfCFTA’s success – Ethiopian Airlines Group VP

There is a need for more well-managed airlines if the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is to be a success, vice president, Ethiopian Airlines Group in charge of Ethiopian-Holiday, Digital Sales and Global Customer Interaction Centre (GCIC), Hailemelekot Mamo, has said.

He said the air transport industry plays a major role in any commerce due to its fast, almost instant, delivery characteristics as opposed to many other modes of transport.

“Africa is huge. This is a continent that’s so big and underserved in the air-industry,” he told the B&FT in an interview covering a wide range of topics: including Ethiopian Airlines’ partnership with ASKY in the West African Region; assessment of the air industry in the region; surviving COVID-19; and the promotion of tourism among others, at his base in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The coming into force of AfCFTA is expected to present major opportunities for African economies and their governments to bring 30 million people out of extreme poverty, and raise the incomes of 68 million others who live on less than US$5.50 per day if implemented successfully, according to the World Bank.

The implementation includes trade facilitation measures which cut red-tape and simplify Customs procedures, helping to usher-in the reforms necessary to enhance long-term growth in African countries.

There is therefore no doubt, according to Mr. Mamo, that a strong aviation industry on the continent would accelerate implementation of the revolutionary trade area as well as enhance the free movement of people, which is seen as a tool with which other development aspirations – such as prosperity, peace and security, among other key indices in the continent including success of the AfCFTA – can be achieved.

“There’s no doubt that it would help the free trade area, in fact boost its growth, in such a way that it may double; it may triple. The connectivity has to be there for businesses to drive. So therefore we believe it’s critical,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Ethiopian Airlines added four times per week night-flights from Accra to its operations. This development complements the Pan-African airline’s seven times weekly regular mid-day flights, making it the largest operator by frequency servicing the Kotoka International Airport (KIA).

As an airline group, it also has one of the largest cargo facilities: a fully-fledged modern aviation university equipped with the latest technology the industry has to offer; and maintenance, repair and overhaul, catering and ground services.

Speaking at a ceremony to launch the Airline’s evening flights, Country Manager for Ghana Aniley Eshetu reiterated the carrier’s commitment to connecting Africa with the rest of the world.

She said Ethiopian Airlines serves 131 international passenger and cargo destinations – including 63 African cities with daily and multiple flights with a layover in Addis – currently deploying 143 modern aircraft.

Pamela Djamson-Tettey, Managing Director of Ghana Airports Company Limited, commended the airline for adding evening flights to its operations; saying it will undoubtedly offer more connectivity options for travellers in Africa and the Middle East and Asia, as well as provide the needed competition and offer travellers affordable fares.

She assured that GACL will continue providing the needed facilities and services for a pleasant travel experience – in line with its mission of providing world-class facilities and services for the benefit of stakeholders.

“We believe that, together, we can achieve the vision of positioning Ghana as the Preferred Aviation Hub and Leader in Airport Business for West Africa. We wish to assure Ethiopian Airlines that we will provide them with the needed support for smooth facilitation at Kotoka International Airport,” she said.