Ethiopian Airlines Aviation Group made a record high profit of 3.15 billion birr in the 2013-2014 fiscal year that ended in June 2014.
The net profit is the highest the airline made in its 69 year history and surpassed the net profit it bagged last year by 53 percent. Last fiscal year the airline made a net profit of 2.3 billion birr. According to information obtained from the airline, the national flag carrier generated 46.5 billion birr operating revenue, up by 21 percent. The airline transported six million passengers and 187,000 tons of cargo in the budget year, a surge of 13 and seven percent respectively. In the 2013-2014 fiscal year the airline phased in 13 new jetliners and opened nine new destinations.
A senior official at Ethiopian told The Reporter that the airline managed to make a record high profit at a turbulent time. The economic recession in Europe, fuel price hike, and the Ebola Virus outbreak in West Africa are some of the critical challenges Ethiopian Airlines and other international airlines faced. The flag carrier recently announced that it was losing eight million dollars in sales every month due to the Ebola pandemic that scared away passengers from traveling to Africa.
The official attributed the remarkable performance of the airline to the implementation of a right business strategy stipulated in the Vision 2025, the airlines 15 growth plan, and the hard work of the management and employees of the airline. “It was a very successful year for the airline,” the official said.
Ethiopian Airlines amassed ten international awards in the fiscal year. The African Airlines Association crowned Ethiopian as best airline of the year last November in Algiers, Algeria while the International Air Transport Association (IATA) ranked it the largest carrier in Africa in terms of revenue and profit. Ethiopian Airlines has also won prestigious awards from the American aircraft manufacturer, Boeing, and the Canadian air framer, Bombardier.
Ethiopian registered the historic performance at a time when most prominent African carriers reported spiral loses. The neighboring and arch-rival of Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, reported a net loss of 139 million dollars in six months (from April to September 2014), South African Airways registered a net loss of 223 million dollars in the fiscal year ending March 2014 and Africa’s oldest airline, Egypt Air, incurred a net loss of 350 million dollars in the fiscal year that ended June 2014.
The prominent aviation analyst CAPA last week revealed that Ethiopian Airlines is planning further fleet and network expansion in 2015, enabling the flag carrier to widen the gap with other leading African carriers. Ethiopian has already become the largest airline in Africa based on fleet size and could overtake South African Airlines in 2015 as the largest based on passengers carried.
The report issued by CAPA last week stated that Ethiopian has doubled in size since the beginning of the decade while most other major African carriers have grown only slightly or not at all. “Asia and Africa have been, and will continue to be, the primary drivers as Ethiopian taps the booming Asia-Africa market,” the report said.
Ethiopian plans to launch services to Tokyo in Apr-2015, which will become its 11th destination in Asia. The carrier will also add its second US destination in June 2015 as service to Los Angeles is launched.
Ethiopian is one of only four airlines in Africa with over 5 million annual passengers. It is also one of only four airline groups with a fleet of more than 50 aircraft, according to CAPA.
Currently, Ethiopian Airlines serves 84 international destinations with 67 modern aircraft with an average age of seven years. The fleet includes state of the art jetliners including the B787 Dreamliner and B777. By 2025 the airline plans to carry 18 million passengers to 92 destinations by 120 modern aircraft. It also plans to generate an operating revenue of 10 billion dollars.
Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam, told The Reporter that the airline is already accomplishing the Vision 2025 targets. Ethiopian is investing on start up airlines in Africa. The state-owned flag carrier owns a stake on the Lome-based Pan African airline, ASKY. Recently, it invested on another start up airline in Malawi, Malawi Airlines Ltd. The management of Ethiopian recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the South Sudanese government that enables the young nation establish a national airline. Ethiopian is also eyeing Rwanda and DRC Congo for the establishment of another regional hub. Tewolde said having a multi hub is one of the business strategies stipulated in the Vision 2025 growth plan.
In a related news, Ethiopian acquired the first Boeing B787 Dreamliner full flight simulator in Africa at a cost of 20 million dollars. In a statement to The Reporter Ethiopian said the installation and build of the full flight simulator is in the process at Ethiopian main hub in Addis Ababa adding that the first pilot training in the B787 flight simulator will start in March this year. Ethiopian provides full flight simulator for pilots on the Q-400, B737, B757 and B767.