Ethiopian Airlines resumes flights to Djibouti

(HornTrade) – After suspending its daily flight to Djibouti for two weeks, Ethiopia’s flag carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, resumed Monday its regular flight operations to the neighboring country. The Djiboutian civil aviation authorities recently denied Ethiopian flight operations permit demanding that the airline deploy Boeing jet instead of the turboprop aircraft. Ethiopian has been operating Fokker 50 and more recently the new Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft on the Addis Ababa Djibouti route. The Djiboutian authorities have been complaining about the type of aircraft Ethiopian has been flying to Djibouti and requested the airline to use Boeing 737 jets.

However, the management of Ethiopian did not accept the request on the ground that the passenger traffic on the Addis Djibouti route does not necessitate the deployment of B737 aircraft. A senior executive of Ethiopian told The Reporter that the new Q400 turboprop aircraft the airline acquired from the Canadian air framer, Bombardier, last March was sufficient to accommodate the passenger traffic on the Addis Djibouti route adding that Ethiopian has a shortage of regional jets.

The five aging Fokker aircraft Ethiopian has been operating for more than ten years mainly on domestic routes each have more than 50 seats. Last year, Ethiopian placed firm orders for eight Q400 aircraft with a total value of 290 million dollars and Bombardier had delivered five of them to the airline. The remaining will be arriving by the end of this year. The new Q400 aircraft known for low noise and higher fuel efficiency has more than 70 seats in a single configuration. Ethiopian has five 737-700 and two 737-800 jetliners. The B737 aircraft has more than 150 seats.

After deliberating on the issue, executives of Ethiopian and the Djiboutian authorities reached an agreement that enables Ethiopian to resume its regular flight operations to Djibouti with the modern Q400 aircraft. An Ethiopian executive told The Reporter that the company does not want to disappoint the Djiboutian officials. However, he said their demand was inappropriate. “Djiboutians are our good customers. Besides, they are our neighbors. We will do our best to continue providing them with commendable services but at the moment we can not deploy B737 aircraft on that route. Considering the market demand we may change the type of aircraft we use in the future,” the executive said. Ethiopian suspended the daily flight to the small Red Sea state on August 1.

In a related the news, the management of Ethiopian is in the process of selling the five Fokker 50s. The management ordered the Q400s with the view to replacing the ageing Fokker50s.

Source: Reporter

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