Ethiopian Business Review

Ethiopian in the South American Sky

Ethiopian Airlines launched its first flight to South America on July 1, 2013. The flight from Addis Ababa to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the 74th and 75th destinations of the airline, via Lome’, Togo, will increase its flight route network to five continents.

Tewolde Gebremariam CEO of Ethiopian, during the launch, said, “the route will be the only direct [flight] service between West Africa and Brazil and with ASKY, our partner, the airline will connect 22 West African cities with South America.”

The flight will connect the BRICS, using Addis Ababa as a hub. Ethiopian will be connecting China, India and Africa with Brazil. “The flight will connect Brazil with 45 destinations in Africa, 28 flights to China, 14 flights to Lebanon and five weekly flights to Israel among others,” he declared.

The flights are starting to serve Brazil while the country is preparing to host the World Cup in the summer of 2014, according to Tewolde.

Minister of Transport, Diriba Kuma, pointed out the flight will start a new chapter and will strengthen the excellent relationship between the two countries.

The national carrier is opening the routes at an important time, when Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular are registering fast economic growth, which will play a critical role in trade, investment and tourism. “Brazil which seemed far away is now only 13 hours away from Addis Ababa,” Diriba noted.

The Brazilian Ambassador to Ethiopia Isabela Cristina de Azevedo also said “I am very happy about the commencing of the flight; it is like a dream come true.”

Asked if this will overstretch the airline, Tewolde asserted, “We always do what we want to do in harmonizing with what we can. We have studied and prepared ourselves for the past two years to launch this flight.”

“We have first strengthened our internal capacity with aircraft, maintenance, flight, safety and other things to start this flight and we understand well the risks of overstretching in the airline business,” he told EBR.

Brazil one of the RBICS and the largest economy in South America has started to seriously engage in projects in several African countries, including some of the new train endeavors in Ethiopia.

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