Ethiopian Airlines eyes ‘aggressive’ growth in the UK market

Ethiopian Airlines Airbus 350
By Harry Kemble
06/07/2023
Home » Ethiopian Airlines eyes ‘aggressive’ growth in the UK market

Ethiopian Airlines wants to increase its flights to and from London this year as it looks to ‘aggressively’ grow leisure sales in the UK market.

UK Sales Manager Mohammed Ali said the airline’s primary objective was to buy the right slots at Heathrow before the winter but he admitted it was open to looking at other UK airports.

The airline offers five flights a week from Manchester to Addis Ababa as well as daily flights between Heathrow and the Ethiopian capital.

At an Ethiopian Airlines event to celebrate 50 years of flying to the UK on 5 July, Mohammed told Travel Gossip: “We need a morning arrival into Heathrow and an evening departure from Heathrow, so it provides connectivity with our African network.”

But he said there were airlines with ‘deeper pockets’ that could snap up the right slots at Heathrow ahead of Ethiopian Airlines.

“If we don’t expand at Heathrow, we could potentially go to another UK airport,” he said. “There are some studies in the pipeline to try and work out which airport that could be.

“We need to expand in the UK and our desire is to have something in place by this winter.”

CEO Mesfin Tasew Bekele told guests at the same event that the airline had ‘a strong desire’ to add more flights to and from the UK. Each month, Ethiopian Airlines carries 22,000 passengers between the UK and Addis Ababa.

Ethiopian Airlines is also hoping to expand both its on-the-road account management team and double the size of its trade support team in the UK by the end of August.

“We are strengthening our account management team,” added Mohammed. “The current team size is three people, but we need to increase that to four or five.

“We’re also strengthening our trade support team; we need to add three to the existing team of three. We’re missing opportunities because we do not have big enough team out there.

“The recruitment drive is well underway, and we expect to have it all done and dusted by the end of August.”

Currently, 45% of Ethiopian Airlines’ passengers are visiting friends and relatives, 25% is leisure and the rest is split between business, corporate and humanitarian aid, according to Mohammed.

But he said the carrier’s focus was to grow leisure sales during the next fiscal year from July 2023 to June 2024.

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