Ethiopian Airlines was established as Ethiopian Air Lines Inc.
In 1945, Emperor Hailesilassie, ruler of Ethiopia at the time, contracted Trans World Airlines to set up and manage the airline. The agreement included the provision of spare parts, and ground equipment by TWA in return for fixed payment based on revenue. It also included hiring of flight and maintenance crew and other key personnel. Expatriates constituted half of Ethiopian Airlines employees.
Initially the airline bought five US Government war surplus Douglas C-47 Skytrain transports which were the military versions of the commercial DC-3, stationed in Cairo. The aircraft arrived at Addis Ababa loaded with spare parts, on February 1, 1946, accompanied by a sixth plane, which transported the crew back to Cairo. A week after, the airline flew its first charter operation to Nairobi carrying East African currency, the Ethiopian State Bank needed to transport.
On April 8 the inaugural flights to Cairo via Asmara was conducted followed by weekly services to Djibouti and Aden, as well as a domestic flight to Jimma. As the passenger demand grew, the airline bought four more skytrains from the US government. The first planes were not comfortable for passengers traveling long distances because all had seats were on the side of the fuselage with the central aisle left for cargo. To increase passenger comfort the airline bought three more skytrains in 1947. The aircraft had 21 converted forward facing seats, which were among the first to wear the colorful Ethiopian Airlines livery, which remained in use until June 2003.
In the late 1940s, ET extended its route network to Nairobi, Port Sudan, Bombay and chartered flights to Jeddah. Slowly the web of domestic webs grew as more airstrips, which were usually covered with grass grew. These routes grew to 21 by the end of 1952 so did the number of passengers and cargo which ranged from coffee and beans to butter, honey, hides and even livestock.
At the end of 1950s ET bought three higher performance Convair 240 aircraft, which had a fully furnished interior and 36 seats. The aircraft had pressurized cabin and cruised at high altitude through smoother air.
In July 1953, the Ethiopian Government negotiated a new agreement with TWA to eventually change the personnel entirely to Ethiopians. Gradually, the change began. In January 1957, Captain Alemayehu Abebe was appointed as the first Ethiopian aircraft commander followed by many others to achieve its current all Ethiopian staff.
Ethiopian Airlines started its long haul flights to Frankfurt in 1958. To support the long haul routes of Addis Ababa-Cairo-Athens-Frankfurt, three Douglas DC-6B Cloud masters, with a capacity of 71 passengers, were delivered in 1958. Three years later, the route network continued to expand pioneering the first east-west flights across Africa to Monrovia with intermediate stops at Khartoum and Accra; the airline steadily expanded its services throughout the continent and established the largest network.
Up to December 1962, the airline was using Lideta airfield, which was built by Italians in 1936, to serve in Addis Ababa. However, Ethiopian Airlines had to change when it decided to enter the jet age by buying B720s, because the runway was too short. As a result, Bole area was selected for the new airport because it was further from the capital.
The first jet service was inaugurated on January 15, 1963, from Bole to Nairobi. The airline bought six more DC-3s in the decade after 1963 to expand its domestic and cargo services. These aircraft served for about 45 years and were replaced by 6 De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otters and 2 ATR-42s which had seat capacity of 18 and 46 passengers each respectively.
The Ethiopian Airlines' Pilot Training School (PTS) and Multinational Aviation Maintenance Technician School (AMTS) commissioned in 1964 and in 1967 respectively have been playing a pivotal role in the training of pilots and technicians not only for the Airline's own use but also for different countries mainly from Africa and the Middle East.
Its maintenance facilities that are affirmed by periodic checks of international regulatory bodies such as the U.S Federal Aviation Administration, International Civil Aviation Organization and the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Organization, Ethiopian has gained a reputation for its high standard and excellent safety records.
In 1965 the status of the airline was changed from corporation to a share company and the title Ethiopian Air Lines became Ethiopian Airlines. In 1979 Boeing 727s were bought to replace the aging Boeing 720s. In the 1980s the airline introduced several new aircraft to update its fleet. Wide-bodied Boeing 767s arrived at Addis Ababa on June 1, 1984 to further replace the B720s.
Then come the 1990s where the airline expanded its wings. At the time of Ethiopian's 50th anniversary in April 1996, the route network stretched from Europe (London, Frankfurt and Rome) to China (Beijing) and Thailand (Bangkok). The Middle East and Indian sub-continent were well represented, and the airline's African route reached Senegal and Ivory Coast in the west, Cairo in the north, and Johannesburg and Durban in the south. Another giant leap was made in July 1998 when Ethiopian launched a twice-weekly service to Washington, its first destination in the Americas and flights to New York followed shortly after. Today, Ethiopian Airlines has grown its international route network to 44 international destinations across four continents and 22 domestic destinations. After accomplishing its dream of bringing Africa together, it has changed its motto to Africa's link to the world. Hence, it is now striving to be Africa's world class airline.
To further expand its services, construction of a new Cargo Terminal started in November 2003. The new cargo terminal will accommodate four-cargo aircraft load at a time. Another big construction work at ET that started in December 2003 is the new 2nd maintenance hangar, which will accommodate B747 and Airbus A-340s aircraft.
With the objective of making flying special, Ethiopian Airlines offers a new class of travel-Cloud Nine where passengers are highly relaxed by the space and comfort of the previous first class but at a lower business class fare. Its esteemed customers are also privileged in the Frequent Flyer Programme known as ShebaMiles. The ever-increasing membership level shows how much our frequent travelers liked the programme. In Gold, Silver and Blue Club, customers save miles and enjoy the special privileges Ethiopian offers them.
Another remarkable development achieved in the course of time is in the use of Information Technology (IT). Among other IT facilities, the on-line (Internet) booking service has recently been made possible and passengers traveling from Addis Ababa, Rome, Washington, New York, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam, Nairobi, Tel Aviv, Cairo, Paris, Entebbe, Dar Es Salam, Johannesburg, Hong Kong Stockholm have access to make their own bookings over the Internet. This facility will be implemented at other cities as well in the near future.
To support the route expansion and aggressive fleet enhancement programme, the airline decided to buy 11 new aircraft in July 2002. The order included six B767-300ERs and five B737-700NGs. Currently the airline's fleet data includes six B767-300 (three of them are brand new) one B767-200, five brand new B737-700, one B737-260, four B757-260P, five Fokker-50, three De Havilland Canada and one 757-260PF Cargo.
On April 28, 2005 Ethiopian completed an agreement for the purchase of five Boeing 787 Dreamliner jets and purchase rights for five additional 787s, which they later changed to 10 purchase rights. With this 10 B787 Dreamliners purchase order Ethiopian became part of the launch team of the revolutionary airplane which has unmatched 200-300 passenger capacity by any current airplane. The delivery of these aircraft will start in 2008, and will be the beginning of an era of unprecedented passenger comfort and technical performance to Ethiopian Airlines. This is also an unmistakable sign of ET's commitment to be a leader in the African aviation and its goal of keeping its long tradition of pioneering air transport in Africa since its inception in 1946. – less – More from ZoomInfo »