Ethiopian Airlines Eyes Asian Market With Chinese Crew

Ethiopian Airlines Eyes Asian Market With Chinese Crew

Africa’s most profitable airline, Ethiopian Airlines, has hired Chinese crew on all its flights to China in an effort to capture the Asian market, the carrier’s chief executive told AFP.

The Addis Ababa-based airline has recruited 30 Chinese and is currently training them at the Ethiopian Airlines Aviation Academy in preparation of their first in-flight experience in November.

Tewolde Gebremariam, Ethiopian Airlines CEO, told AFP that company was focusing on China, its biggest market in Asia, before moving to other countries in the region.

“90 percent of passengers flying to China don’t speak English,” Gebremariam said. “They don’t understand the safety instructions.”

According to CAPA Aviation, East Asia has been the main driver of Ethiopian’s rapid expansion in recent years – with two destinations added in 2015 for a total of nine – and will continue to be a focus as Africa’s largest airline doubles its fleet over the next decade.

Ethiopian Airlines is planning to launch services to Chengdu, Ho Chi Minh, Jakarta and Singapore.

China’s presence in Africa has grown over the last decade as the Asian giant seek closer ties with the region to feed its growing industrial sector with raw material and other natural resources.

In return the Beijing government has invested heavily in infrastructure projects in sub-Saharan Africa, making it the largest trade and investment partner t most countries on the continent.

Chinese community in Africa has also grown in tandem with the increased relations.

Ethiopian Airlines, which made more profit that all other African carriers combined in 2014, boasts one of the largest fleet of planes in the region and ferried more than six million people last year.

Gebremariam plans to make Ethiopian Airlines the primary carrier between Africa and Asia.

“We’re the best point of entry for the continent,” Gebremariam said. “Addis is situated at the junction point between the emerging economies of Africa and Asia.”