Interview with Tigist Eshetu, Regional Director India Sub Continent of Ethiopian Airlines
“Ethiopian Airlines’ (ET) strategy for revival started right from the time the pandemic started!”
Africa’s largest carrier Ethiopian Airlines is already making headlines in the Indian market. The airline is looking to create commercial partnerships with Indian low-cost carriers such as IndiGo and SpiceJet. 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. Tigist Eshetu, Regional Director India Sub Continent of Ethiopian Airlines is quite optimistics about expansions in the Indian market, specially when the airline is commencing its weekly 3-flight to Chennai from July 1. Even on the cargo side, the airline has placed orders for freighters and focussed on the Indian pharma market. She 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 revival from Covid-19 situation and for 2022?
Ethiopian Airlines’ (ET) strategy for revival started right from the time the pandemic started! The airline was the first carrier to start cabin loading. Later in the course of time, we removed seats to maximise the payload. Further, ET has identified the potential markets and deployed its fleet accordingly. Ethiopian airlines will be commencing its weekly 3 flight to Chennai effectively 1 July, 2022. Our prime strategy would be to identify market potential and evolve with the industry by offering various services as per market dynamics.
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?
Currently Ethiopian Airlines is online in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai (effectively July 2022) and offline, GSA office at Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Kolkata. Freighter fleet consists of nine B777 and four B737 freighters. We also have converted 3 nos, B767 Pax to freighter. The first one is expected to be in operation by July 2022-end. Currently we operate freighters only to Mumbai.
What are the expansion plans? What are your focus segments?
Apart from the above fleet, ET has ordered 5 nos, B777 freighters keeping in mind the future cargo demand. The focus would be developing the pharma business, since India is one of the major pharma manufacturers.
How do you see the infrastructure and technology in terms of efficiency in the air cargo sector?
Infrastructure is one of the prime factors in the air freight business. The government plans to develop 33 cargo terminals by 2024-2025, making the overall supply chain fast moving process. Technology is another important factor making moment-to-moment live location of the journey of goods. The goal is to track the exact location of goods by all parties involved.
How do you see the role of digitalization in the air cargo sector?
The pandemic has highlighted further importance of Digitalization, wherein the need for goods movement can be tracked at the click of the mouse. Many companies have emerged offering various services to all parties in the supply chain, i.e. from manufacturer to consignee. The idea is to execute the entire end-to-end logistics solution digitally. Digitalization has evolved to a great degree in the past 2 years, much due to Covid-19 situation and expected to gain momentum in future in all aspects of business.
How Ethiopian Airlines Cargo foresees the future of the air cargo industry in 2022?
Well, post March 2022, the graph has been sliding downward indicating correction in Air freight to normalise like pre-covid levels. We are very optimistic about a quick turnaround.