How Ethiopia Flew Away

Ethiopian Airlines is the largest airline in Africa – and among the most successful aviation corporations in the developing world. A case study of how the airlines evolved into what it is today was carried out by the African Development Bank. 

The report describes how the airlines began in 1946, earned its wings through an agreement with the now defunct TWA, indigenised talent over a period of three decades and then endured the roller coaster of Ethiopia’s coups, civil war and its aftermath in the 1975-200 period. The Marxist military regime of the 1980s nearly drove the airlines into bankruptcy but the management and employees, sometimes by threatening to resign en masse, were able to maintain a surprising degree of independence from political interference. 

When the present period of political stability began, Ethiopian Airlines was able to position itself as the carrier between Africa and the world. Last year it carried 12 million passengers, twice the international passenger carriage of Air India. Its personnel turnover is less than one per cent a year. The study says the airlines contributes directly or indirectly to nearly 4 per cent of Ethiopia’s GDP, besides earning $ 233 million worth of profits last year.


January 29, 2019

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About the Author

Pramit Pal Chaudhury

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times, and Distinguished Fellow & Head, Strategic Affairs, Ananta Aspen Centre

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri writes on political, security, and economic issues. He previously wrote for the Statesman and the Telegraph in Calcutta. He served on the National Security Advisory Board of the Indian government from 2011-2015. Among other affiliations, he is a member of the Asia Society Global Council, the Aspen Institute Italia, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and the Mont Pelerin Society. Pramit is also a senior associate of Rhodium Group, New York City, advisor to the Bower Group Asia in India, a member of the Council on Emerging Markets, Washington, DC, and a delegate for the Confederation of Indian Industry-Aspen Strategy Group Indo-U.S. Strategic Dialogue and the Ananta Aspen Strategic Dialogues with Japan, China and Israel. Born in 1964, he has visited over fifty countries on five continents. Mr. Pal Chaudhuri is a history graduate from Cornell University.