“Ethiopian plans to grow its cargo service in terms of volume, fleet size and destinations served”

Africa’s largest carrier Ethiopian Airlines is already making headlines in the Indian market. Currently, the airline operates non-stop flight services to Bengaluru, Delhi, and Mumbai. In addition, the airline’s cargo subsidiary Ethiopian Airlines Cargo operates freighter services to Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, and New Delhi. Bilen Arefaine, Regional Director India Sub Continent, Ethiopian Airlines is quite optimistics about expansions in the Indian market. Even on the cargo side, the airline has placed orders for freighters and focussed on the Indian market. Bilen shares a lot more in an exclusive interview with Apace Digital Cargo.

To begin with, what is the strategy of Ethiopian Airlines Cargo for the Indian market as the Indian skies seem to competitive for the air cargo fraternity? 

Our Foremost strategy would be identifying the individual market. Due to various

unexpected changes in the global scenario, the cargo movement has become more cost sensitive, and with capacity catching up pace with pre-covid levels, it is more challenging. Ethiopian understands its core advantages/strength areas and focus on those areas of service.

Please share the presence of Ethiopian Airlines Cargo in India as you have recently announced expansions also? How is your freighter fleet size? In which cities are you operating?

Ethiopian Airlines has been operating direct flights to India for more than 50 years now. We have multiple destinations in the country. Including the recently added destination Chennai, we operate flights to Mumbai, New Delhi and Bangalore. We provide cargo services to/from all destinations in India in a belly hold capacity and a dedicated freighter service to/from Mumbai.

Ethiopian Cargo and Logistics Services serves 66 dedicated cargo destinations with 9 Boeing 777-300, 4 Boeing 737-800 and 1 Boeing 767 freighter which had recently been converted to cargo.

What are the expansion plans? What are your focus segments? 

Ethiopian plans to grow its cargo service in terms of volume, fleet size and destinations served. We had already ordered five Boeing 777 freighters keeping in view of future demands. Two B767 aircraft will also join our fleet after their inhouse passenger to cargo conversion which is already ongoing. We are committed to various business areas, although with more focus on Pharmaceuticals and ecommerce.

How do you see the infrastructure and technology in terms of efficiency in the air cargo sector? 

Infrastructure is a prime factor for seamless cargo mobility. The Indian Government has introduced NLP (National Logistics policy) and planned to develop 33 cargo Terminals by 2024/2025. Technology is an equally important factor making live location possible for any cargo in the supply chain process. The goal is to track the exact location of goods by all involved parties.

How do you see the role of digitalization in the air cargo sector? 

The importance of digitalization has been understood deeply amidst the pandemic. It is imperative to track cargo movement with absolute ease. Many Companies have started to provide IT solutions to all segments in the supply chain, from shipper to consignee. This is just a starting stage and expected to evolve. Hence, Ethiopian cargo service is fully automated with one of the latest Cargo IT systems by adopting the latest aviation systems and technologies to provide efficient freight   service across the globe. We are using the latest technologies for data, information and market intelligence with 100% e-AWB from our main hub in Addis Ababa.

How Ethiopian Airlines Cargo foresees the future of the air cargo industry?

Although we are facing several socio-economic challenges that are affecting the operating environment, we are absolutely optimistic about the cargo business. The Covid19 pandemic has been evident to our adapting nature as required from time to time.