By Edith Wairimu
Published March 19, 2011
Travelling should be a comfortable and memorable adventure. Aircraft safety has been the major concern raised about African airlines. European Union Transport Commissioner, Jacques Barrot, once referred to some of the aircrafts African airlines use as “Flying Coffins” because of low safety standards.
Many African Airlines (Sudan’s Air West Airline, Angola’s TAAG Angola Airlines and all airlines in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Swaziland) are banned from the European airspace because they do not meet the required safety standards.
But it is not just the case of gloom and doom for all African airlines if Ethiopian Airlines is any measure; Ethiopian flies to many European destinations, including Brussels, Rome, London, Paris, Stockholm, and Frankfurt. With their recent acquisition of the state of the art aircraft(Boeing777-200LR)Ethiopian will be flying directly from the Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia in USA to Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This will reduce flight time from 15 hours to 12 and one-half hours.
Ethiopian Airline that operates an all-Boeing fleet of 46 aircraft and is awaiting delivery of 40 more, flies to 60 international and 17 domestic destinations; it has introduced three weekly flights to Maputo, Mozambique and a twice weekly to Bangui, Central African Republic.
Ethiopian was the first African Airline to acquire and operate the Boeing777-200LR; this craft has a carrying capacity of 321 passengers, is fuel-efficient and emits lower carbon to the environment.
Ethiopian Airline Aviation Academy in partnership with the European Aviation Academy, has been training its own pilots, aircraft technicians and flight attendants.
Though it suffered a blow in January 2010 following a fatal plane crash in Beirut, Lebanon that killed all 90 passengers on board, Ethiopian has received seven awards; the latest is the African Cargo Airline of the Year this year that recognises airlines that have the best storage facilities, cargo terminals capacity in terms of space as well as their handling services. The awards were organized by STAT Times an international multimodal transport media that has been encouraging excellence in various categories of Air Cargo industry since 2006.
The “New Spirit of Africa” (as Ethiopian Airline is fondly known from its motto) is set to join Star Alliance, the leading global airline network in terms of destinations that currently has a membership of 29 global carriers, in 2011.