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4 Brilliant Reasons Why Ethiopian Airlines is Successful

why ethiopian airlines is successful
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Unconditional government support, competent management, modern fleet and capitalizing on Africa’s expanding aviation industry sums up why Ethiopian Airlines is successful.  The airline owns 45% of Zambia Airways, 49% of Guinea Airways, 100% of Ethiopia-Mozambique Airlines, 49% of Chad Airlines and 49% of Air Malawi.

For context, the Ethiopian national carrier generated $6.1 billion in revenue in 2022/2023 and had 13.89 million passengers within the same period. SKYTRAX World Airline Awards has continuously named Ethiopian Airlines The Best in Africa. If you have used it, you can confidently state that it is a leader in African aviation. See Africa Today delves into the factors that make it the best and most successful airline in Africa.

How Did Ethiopian Airlines Succeed?

Ethiopian airlines

Ethiopian Airlines is among the best airlines in Africa in 2021. Photo/ EA

Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s largest, most profitable and the fastest-growing airline in the continent. It has established itself as one of the top carriers with unparalleled operational success and efficiency in its over 77 years of operations. Aviation experts link its current success to having, among many other things, the newest and most advanced fleet. A quick look at its fleet of 154 planes tells all why Ethiopian Airlines is successful. You will find the following:

  • Airbus – Airbus models are the workhorse models in the aviation sector. Ethiopian Airlines has a huge fleet with models like the A370 and A380 for routes with higher capacity. The airline also has efficient Airbus models like the A350, reputed for passenger comfort and efficiency.
  • Boeing – The long-range Boeing 777 and the fuel-efficient 787 Dreamliner keep passenger expectations and demand at impressive levels.
  • Bombardier – Bombardier’s Q-400 turboprop aircraft is the most common for regional flights. Bombardier flies across 63 African cities.

With this fleet, the Ethiopian national carrier flies to over 136 international destinations for both passengers and cargo, 63 of which are African cities. Further, this African airline operates across five continents making it Africa’s most networked carrier. Its modern fleet keeps its services above board with exemplary service for both passengers and cargo.

Why Ethiopian Airlines is Successful

Ethiopian Airline’s success is a result of brilliant planning with the future of the airline on top of every move it makes. Here is a comprehensive review of why Ethiopian Airlines is successful.

Government Support

Ethiopian Airlines’ success is largely attributed to the strategic assistance and ownership of the Ethiopian government. The government keeps operating expenses low by operating a modern fleet which is fuel-efficient and gives passengers the utmost comfort. It also reinvests profits back into the airline.  Additionally, the government’s investment in Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, a significant African aviation hub, supports effective connectivity throughout the continent.

Subsequently, the government gives the airline some autonomy while still holding ownership. The airline’s management independently decides on expansion, partnerships, and strategic routes without interference from the state.

Modern Fleet

most profitable African airlines

Ethiopian Airlines. Photo/News Central TV

The Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier fleets keep the airline’s operating costs low. The 154 aircraft have an average age of seven years and are super fuel-efficient. Ethiopia is the first African airline to operate such a huge modern fleet successfully. Each fleet is tailored for a specific route and purpose. Long-haul routes for passengers and cargo enlist the Airbus. Boeing planes are equally great for long-range flights while Bombardier are best suited for regional flights.

Tapping on a Growing African Aviation Market

Ethiopian Airlines has a 100% stake in Ethiopia-Mozambique Airlines, 49% of Chad Airlines, 49% of Air Malawi, 45% of Zambia Airways, and 49% of Guinea Airways. It benefits strategically from holding minority holdings in these African airlines. Firstly, it frees up resources to expand the network into other markets, increasing its reach without having to start up new airlines on its own.

By doing this, they expand their network and draw travellers who might not have otherwise been able to reach their primary hub in Addis Ababa. In addition, more travellers from smaller African countries fly to its main hub in Addis Ababa.

Finally, minority stakes enable African carriers to collaborate and exchange knowledge, which benefits all parties. Ethiopian Airlines has a reputation for efficiency and management skills which it shares with affiliated airlines.

Competent Management

Competent management is a big reason why Ethiopian Airlines is successful. The management has made Addis Ababa a strategic route network hub facilitating effective connectivity throughout Africa.  To cut costs, they place a high priority on having a modern, fuel-efficient fleet that still guarantees passenger comfort.

There are a lot of fascinating things about Ethiopia but one that’s not often spoken about is Ethiopian Airlines beautiful ladies crew

There are a lot of fascinating things about Ethiopia but one that’s not often spoken about is Ethiopian Airlines’ beautiful ladies’ crew. Photo/Ethiopian Airlines

Moreover, the Ethiopian national carrier has forged prudent alliances thereby attracting more travellers. Most important and often overlooked by other African airlines, Ethiopian Airlines invests massively in employee training. This promotes an excellence-focused culture and helps the airline maintain its position as the best airline in Africa.

What is Special About Ethiopian Airlines?

Being a successful state-owned African airline makes Ethiopian Airlines successful. A majority of African carriers where the respective governments own a majority stake operate in losses. However, it is different for Ethiopia which runs the most profitable airline in Africa.  Moreover, it’s assertively a Pan-African aviation powerhouse.

In terms of passengers transported, destinations served, fleet size, and revenue; Ethiopian airlines takes it home. What’s more is that it operates a relatively young fleet of the best aircraft in the aviation space providing safety, comfort and efficiency.  Not to forget that its stake in other African markets helps it expand its aviation portfolio regionally and internationally.


Ethiopian Airlines is an excellent case study of how to run a profitable airline in Africa.  It has registered remarkable growth in the last 10 years – 25% annually.  Unbelievably, the airline has realised its 15-year strategic plan before schedule and won numerous aviation awards regionally and internationally. Technology, independence, customer service and strategic thinking put it on a level above all other African airlines.

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