Ethiopian Airlines cut domestic flights rate 40%

In an attempt to boost tourist flow to the country, Ethiopian Airlines announced a 40 per cent flights rate cut to local tourist destinations in Ethiopia.

"We are more than ready to serve tourists coming to Ethiopia and as a national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines has a duty and obligation to promote Ethiopia," said CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Tewolde GebreMariam, speaking at a press conference Thursday.

"The discount makes us very, very competitive compared to local flight rates of airlines operating in the neighboring countries," Tewolde said.

The discount now enables one to fly one way with around $50 to destinations such as from Addis Ababa to Bahir Dar, according to the CEO.

The airlines currently fly to 17 local destinations in Ethiopia and 63 out of Ethiopia. The CEO also mentioned that with security conscious Ethiopia is planning to increase the number of countries, which have access to visa at the airport.

Currently around 30 country nationals are allowed to get visa at Bole Airport in Addis Ababa on arrival, according to Tewolde.

The new rate of Ethiopian Airlines domestic flight is being subsidized from income of international flights and is not profitable, according to Busera Awel, Chief commercial officer of Ethiopian Airlines.

"Ethiopian Airlines decision to cut the cost is a big plus for our effort," said, Solomon Tadesse, CEO of Ethiopian Tourism Organization (ETO) - a public private partnership body established recently to work on tourism product deployment and promotion where Ethiopian Airlines CEO also serves as a board member.

Explaining the challenges tourism industry of the country has faced, a representative of Ethiopian Tour Operators Association on his part indicated that his members will also consider cutting their cost by at least 20 per cent.

Among the challenges mentioned at the briefing includes hotel services standardization, lack of professionals and lack of infrastructures such as roads.

"We are not satisfied yet; some of the products are not up to the global standard. Tourist products should be upgraded first before promotion," said Tewolde, who is optimist that the currently less half a million per annum tourist flow to Ethiopia has a potential to increase many folds in a short period. (NBE)