New Ethiopian chief outlines strategy to 2025

Addis Ababa
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Future Star Alliance member Ethiopian Airlines has prepared its strategy for the period to 2025, which will see it expand to a fleet of 119 aircraft and quadruple its passenger numbers.

The Addis Ababa-based carrier has tripled its revenues and profits since 2005. By June 2010 it had increased its revenue from $390 million to $1.3 billion, while its profitability has risen from around $30 million to $123 million.

"[Our strategic programme] Vision 2010 is now over, the term is up and everything we have done has exceeded our targets of doubling in size," Ethiopian Airlines chief-designate Tewolde Gebremariam told ATI in Addis Ababa.

"Some parameters we have even tripled. The question is: What will we do next?"

Gebremariam will lead the carrier from January, replacing Girma Wake who is retiring. "Our thinking is that a five-year plan is not enough. We need to think about longer-term planning because fleet renewal is a long-term planning exercise," he says.

Ethiopian's fleet will reach 119 aircraft by 2025, he say, potentially causing capacity problems at Addis Ababa's Bole International Airport.

"Bole is going to expand its ramp and terminal but by 2025, when we have a fleet of 119 aircraft, Bole won't be able to accommodate us. We may need a new airport, so this is under study. The [2,200m] altitude of Bole is too high and so we may be able to reduce this by locating the airport 70km from Addis Ababa."

He is also planning to transform the airline into an "aviation group", comprising seven divisions. Ethiopian's international, regional and domestic airline operations, its "800 tonne gorilla", represent 84% of the company's revenues, while cargo makes up a further 15%, and the rest of its activity combined brings in the other 1%.

The aim is to even the spread through the seven divisions, which will comprise the international airline, regional and domestic operations, Ethiopian Cargo, Ethiopian Maintenance, the Ethiopian Aviation Academy, Ethiopian Catering Services and Ethiopian Ground Services.

To support this growth, Ethiopian is building a maintenance hangar and expanding its training and cargo facilities at Bole Airport.