By Reed Kramer
Washington, DC — Ethiopian Airlines, the oldest carrier in Africa, is stepping up promotion of tourism to its home country while continuing to expand the number of destinations served across the continent and the globe. Since April 2015, Nigusu Worku has been directing operations of the award-wining company in the United State, a highly competitive market for international airlines. He was interviewed at the U.S. headquarters Ethiopian Airlines in Alexandria, Virginia.
What is your background and how long has Ethiopian Airlines been operating in this country?
I have been with the airline for 15 years – 11 years based in Addis and the last four in Canada and the USA. We have had service from Washington Dulles for almost 20 years. More recently, we added Los Angeles New York and Chicago. These are our four U.S. gateways. Our largest traffic is from Dulles, but our traffic from New York is also increasing – we have daily flights now. We started Los Angeles three years ago and Chicago in June.
What portion of your passengers from these U.S. gateways have Ethiopia as their final destination?
About 65 percent of the traffic from USA is transit, mostly to other stops in Africa, and 35 percent end up in Addis or other cities in Ethiopia. Addis has become a popular hub for travel to Africa. We have a great network to African cities but we also have service to Europe, the Middle East and Far East. We operate on five continents.
Why should passengers choose Ethiopian over other carriers that serve the same routes?
We are flying a direct service at a reasonable price. Plus we are making people arrive in Africa day time, which is a great factor for many to choose Ethiopian. A passenger can take our flights from Washington Dulles to go to African points. Our flight departs around 11 AM and arrives next morning in Addis. In two hours, passengers can connect to any African point and can arrive in many African cities afternoon that day.
We have a four-star Skytrax rating, a great achievement in the industry which testifies to our customer service standards, our inflight entertainment, our total commitment to the fleet. We have been recognized as the best airline in Africa for the last three years.
What is the airline doing to promote tourism into Ethiopia?
We believe Ethiopia has a lot to offer – great historical and cultural attractions. But we have not promoted these well. One of the campaigns we have launched is the stopover packages. Before traveling to other destinations, people can spend a day or more in Addis or visit other cities in Ethiopia at a very reasonable price.
The current situation in Ethiopia is quite dynamic. Does that help business?
Definitely. The social and economic conditions in Ethiopia are very promising. People are excited and united to transform the situation. It is a very good time for tourists to come and see Ethiopia!