Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s largest carrier, which already has a codeshare deal with Tata Group-owned Air India, is seeking a “commercial” deal with domestic budget carriers Indigo and SpiceJet, a senior company official said.
The airline further said that it is also evaluating the possibility of setting up an aircraft (maintenance, repair and overhaul) facility in India.
It currently operates its non-stop flight services to Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. The airline has freight services to Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore.
Significantly, the airline recently completed 50 years of its operations in Mumbai.
“India is one of our strategic markets in Asia and we have been providing important air links between India and Africa for decades. This is an important destination for Ethiopian Airlines for passenger and cargo services, ”Eisenhower, the regional director of Ethiopian Airlines in the Indian subcontinent, told PTI.
Ethiopian Airlines began flying to Delhi from the capital city of Addis Ababa in 1966 and later to Mumbai in December 1971. It will add Bangalore to its network from the end of 2019
Ethiopian Airlines is constantly expanding its operations in India with additional frequencies, new cities and aircraft upgrades. This trend will continue in the coming years, he said.
Mentioning that the airline is ready to start service with three weekly flights from Chennai from July 2, which will be served with Boeing 737 Max or Boeing 787 Dreamliner depending on market demand, Eshitu said that other destinations like Ahmedabad and Hyderabad are also on the advanced radar.
Also, “We have a code share agreement with Air India and an SPA (Special Proport Agreement) with Vista. We are evaluating and contacting SpiceJet and Indigo for a commercial agreement, “he said without elaborating.
The SPA is an agreement between two or more airlines to distribute fares through two or more legs operated by different airlines.
Emphasizing that India has always been its strategic market since 1966, he said, “We want to serve India with enhanced capabilities.” However, covid-induced restrictions have hampered the moderate amount of frequency used to operate the airline, he added, “We are now operating much less but hopefully the services will recover to pre-COVID level (soon).” Global air traffic is recovering, and improvements are expected to accelerate in 2022-23. Ethiopian Airlines has a recovery rate of about 70 percent from the pre-Kwid level and expects it to improve next year, Asetu said.
“India is one of the top markets where we expect high recovery rates and now we have restored our passenger capacity,” he added.
A large portion (39 per cent) of passenger traffic on the airline’s Mumbai route comes from labor travel followed by business and corporate travel, which is 30 per cent. About 55 per cent of the passenger traffic on the Delhi route comes from the business, leisure and VFR (visiting friends and relatives) department.
In addition, 90 per cent of transit passengers from India travel to the airline’s online African points, mainly in Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Botswana, among others, he said.
“We are navigating through the turmoil of COVID-19, capitalizing on our agility and diversified business model. The reduction in the number of passengers after the outbreak of Kovid has helped our freight business to create a revenue stream, ”he said.
He said the airline was in the process of reconfiguring several of its passenger aircraft for cargo services due to its O capacity.
“Evaluation is currently underway at our head office for possible O set-up / tie-up with Indian authorities,” he said.
Noting that Ethiopian Airlines has a huge expansion plan despite the effects of the epidemic, he said: “There is interest from the Ethiopian side to increase the frequency and entry points. We believe the Indian side will be on the same page as the demand from both sides has increased. ”