On December 11th 2018, Africa’s Best Airline – Ethiopian Airlines – inaugurated their first flight between Addis Ababa and Manchester.
The new service will operate on a four-weekly basis, utilising Boeing 787 Dreamliner equipment.
Initially, Ethiopian Airlines will operate the flight via Brussels (with no fifth-freedom rights to fly passengers between the UK and Belgium). Flights leave Manchester at 1900, and arrive in Addis Ababa at 0600, the next day. Meanwhile, the return sector will leave Addis Ababa at 0045, before arriving into Manchester at 0745.
The route will connect Ethiopian Airlines guests to 58 destinations across the continent of Africa, boosting trade and tourism. Ethiopian Airlines’ hub in Bole Airport allows seamless transfers to onward flights, taking passengers to a plethora of destinations – from the Seychelles, to Namibia.
Announced in May 2018, Manchester is Ethiopian Airlines’ second gateway in the United Kingdom. The airline has a long established route to London Heathrow, which has operated for 46 years. Manchester Airport estimates that up to 400,000 people from the airport’s catchement area will be able to benefit from using the new route, including Ethiopian diaspora in the North and Midlands.
It is clear that many people are already taking advantage of the connectivity that this route offers, with Ethiopian Airlines’ CEO – Tewolde GebreMariam – stating that he is confident with advance bookings and aims to increase the route’s frequency to daily and remove the Brussels intermediate stop.
Andrew Cowan, Manchester Airport’s CEO, said:
“We’re delighted to have Ethiopian Airlines launching its service to Addis Ababa today. It will provide a vital route into Africa for businesses across the North, as well as helping attract visitors and potential investors to the region”.
The inaugural event was interspersed with traditional Ethiopian dancing and a gift giving ceremony, between the management of Ethiopian Airlines and MAG.
The celebratory cake – featuring an Ethiopian Airlines fleet member, depicted in cake form – was cut by Tewolde GebreMariam and crew members.
Jeremy Lefroy MP – attending as the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy – also spoke of the importance of the new route, highlighting how Manchester Airport – often referred to as ‘the Gateway to the North’ – holds the keys to economic development across the Midlands, in addition to England’s northern regions.
The route launch comes just a month after Addis Ababa was declared the primary gateway for feeder flights into Africa, overtaking Dubai – hub of the aviation heavyweight, Emirates. So far this year, Addis Ababa’s growth rate is 18%, versus just 3% for Dubai. This is emblematic of Ethiopian Airlines’ fifteen year strategy to win back market share on routes to/from Africa, which it had lost to Middle Eastern carriers. Another catalyst in Ethiopian’s growth has no doubt been the investment in the airline’s hub – Bole International Airport – meaning it is now one of the most modern airports in Africa.
Ethiopian Airlines is an airline with dramatic growth plans which are slowly being realised. Ethiopian is now the airline of choice when travelling from Europe to Africa and was even named ‘Best Airline in Africa’ by SKYTRAX at this year’s airline awards. Additionally, Addis Ababa is now the most important hub for air travel to Africa. The airline has a modern fleet, comprised of Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 aircraft but has never deviated from its roots, continuing to offer traditional Ethiopian hospitality and cuisine onboard.
With Ethiopia making the list of the world’s fastest growing economies, it is clear: Ethiopia and its national airline are undoubtedly on the up. I wish the airline many successful years of operating to their second gateway in the United Kingdom.
You can book flights on Ethiopian Airlines’ new flight to Manchester here. Stay tuned for my review of Ethiopian Airlines’ in-flight experience, including in Business Class.