What You Should Know About Ethiopian Airlines’ Increased Accra – Addis Ababa Flights

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Photo: Ethiopian Airlines’ A350 at the Kotoka International Airport, Accra
Photo: Ethiopian Airlines’ A350 at the Kotoka International Airport, Accra

Since starting its operations in Ghana over six decades ago, Africa’s largest airline, Ethiopian Airlines has been growing its footprints within and beyond the African continent.

In the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ethiopian remained one of the few airlines to have its planes operating the most — carrying out repatriation flights, cargo operations, among others.

Ethiopian remains one of the few airlines that never reduced salaries of employees or sought a government bailout while others were crippling.

In a post-pandemic era, it is spreading its wings by revamping suspended networks, capitalizing on new opportunities, and venturing into new partnerships.

Recent Accra Operations

Prior to the start of the IATA 2023 Summer Window, Ethiopian, which had been operating direct afternoon flights from Accra to Addis Ababa daily, announced the increment of the frequency on the route to 11 times weekly starting March 26, 2023.

Of the four new flights, two provide travellers with an early ‘morning option’  (read “Confusion over ET926 as a Morning or Night Flight?” below for clarity) from the Kotoka International Airport at 5:20am as flight number ET926 on Mondays and Thursdays, and ET928 with the night option departing at 8:00pm on Tuesdays and Fridays.

A Boeing 737 Max 8 with a capacity of 144 in Economy Class and 16 in Business Class is used in the operation of these additional flights.

Motive

But for the COVID-19 pandemic, Ethiopian Airlines had plans to introduce the additional frequencies in 2020. With the removal of stringent COVID-19 travel protocols across borders and the growing demand for travel to levels of pre-pandemic, Ethiopian is leveraging the additional capacity to offer passengers from Accra additional travel options and a more convenient connection time for transit passengers to destinations mainly in Africa as well as the Middle East, Asia, and Europe.

Confusion over ET926 as a Morning or Night Flight?

In almost all of Ethiopian’s marketing communications activities for the route, reference is mainly made to the four additional capacities as night flights, when in reality two of the four flights depart at 5:20am as ET926.

Much as 5:20am may be viewed as an early morning flight in the normal traditional sense (as stated under the theme “Recent Accra Operations” above), using airport operations technicalities, where the period between 6:00am and 6:00pm is referred to as “Day” and the period between 6:00pm and 6:00am is referred to as “Night” mostly, it is not out of place when all the four new flights are referred to as night flights.

Reality

Last year, Ethiopian was the 4th largest foreign operator in Ghana with a passenger load of 136,872 and it is expected that with the additional capacity, it will rise to a higher position from this year.

The expansion in capacity for Accra-Addis Ababa operations makes it possible for Ethiopian to enhance its competitiveness in areas of pricing, connection options, among others.

Its sister company, ASKY also benefits immensely by capitalizing on the arrival and departure time in Accra to connect passengers from and to Monrovia and Free Town.

The Challenge

Ethiopian is facing challenges in maintaining some of its aircraft because of a shortage of aircraft components. In the winter season, it will be carrying out major maintenance on some of its Boeing 787s. As such, there may be some occasional cancellations of flights if necessary in its network which may include the Accra-Addis Ababa route, especially during off-peak demand, to ensure aircraft optimization. If there are any cancellations on the Accra-Addis Ababa route, it is most likely that they will affect the new flights. For example, there may be a week where a flight may be cancelled for ET926/ET927 or ET928/ET929.

 

 

The author, Mark Ofosu is an Airline Media Relations Advisor and a writer who shares regular insights on Ghana’s Aviation Industry. Email: markofosu15@gmail.com . Photo credit: richie_alone (Twitter)

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