Addis Ababa: The Next Big Travel Hub?

Ethiopian Airlines is banking on the state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliner to help it transform the nature of air travel across the African continent and beyond.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn

What's the Latest Development?

Last month Ethiopian Airlines became the first commercial airline outside of Japan to operate a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, a passenger jet that seats up to 290 people and is 20 percent more fuel-efficient than its predecessor, the Boeing 767. Although rival airlines in Kenya and Nigeria have ordered 787s as well, theirs won't arrive for several years yet, which gives Ethiopian (which has nine more coming) several distinct advantages in the market. One is the cost savings: It could be passed on to customers, or reinvested into its fleet, which could make it the largest carrier in sub-Saharan Africa.

What's the Big Idea?

With the 787, Ethiopian Airlines can now operate direct flights from Addis Ababa to almost any city in the world, which means the city could become a major travel center similar to the Persian Gulf cities of Dubai and Doha. Although some aviation experts express doubts about the airline's potential for success, Ethiopian's shrewd management has allowed it to finance its expansion without cash assistance from the government. This has implications for the entire continent: "Africa’s fragmented economy desperately needs airlines to facilitate trade, tourism and growth...[Ethiopian Airlines could] be the example that others follow."

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