Ethiopian Airlines is the African continent’s biggest and fastest growing airline and its ground handling business unit extending its reach all the time, both regionally and internationally
Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s biggest and fastest growing carrier, adding routes globally at pace and growing its fleet each business quarter from its hub Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.
Any airline with such growth and development needs a strong ground services division, and
Ethiopian Airlines Ground Services is one of the seven business units under the Ethiopian Airlines Group.
The division’s Managing Director, Tekle G/Yohannes spoke to ARGS about the challenges and development of the ground handling division and airline group as whole.
How has 2019 been to date for Ethiopian Airlines Ground Services and have you met your targets?
Our mission is to be the ground handling services provider of choice to our customers, employer of choice to our employees and investment of choice to the airline group. Accordingly, we’ve been working aggressively to meet our target as set in our strategic road map Vision 2025, which was launched in 2010. We have already achieved some of our targets and we are confident we will achieve all the targets at or before 2025.
What airlines does Ethiopian’s GH unit handle for in Ethiopia?
Currently, Ethiopian Ground Services unit handles several scheduled operators including Emirates, Lufthansa, Kenya Airways, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines, flydubai, Gulf Air, Eritrean Airlines, and RwandAir. Moreover, as Addis is the HQ of several international organizations and serves as a conference centre for several international meetings, we organise and coordinate all VVIP/VIP such as presidential flights and other special operations in coordination with embassies and other governmental institutions We also handle non-schedule flights such as charter flights.
How many staff members does the GH unit employee?
Currently, Ethiopian Ground Services Unit has more than 3000 employees. The number of employees in the unit will continue to grow fast with the fast growth of our airline.
How have you developed your operations and processes to meet your ever-growing route network and fleet?
Ensuring our flights and that of other network and non-network carriers operating to/from Addis Ababa Airport get the right service, at all times, is a real challenge considering the ever-increasing number of flights and infrastructure limitations. However, we have a business development department which works strategically and innovatively through surveys, research and studies. The department works in collaboration with other business units so that our operations and process are in par with Ethiopian’s growth and expansion plan. We carefully plan and implement our investment in manpower, facilities and equipment.
How has your network expansion helped grow GH?
The growth of Ethiopian’s network means more flight departures and arrivals from/to Ethiopia every day. More frequency in the flights brings more business to us. We opted to seize this opportunity and use it for the growth of our ground services business.
Will the Ethiopian Airlines route network to expand in future?
Of course, Ethiopian will continue with its growth plan and expand its services to cover all continents with many more destinations. In the coming five years, Ethiopian will reach almost all corners of Africa. More cities in Africa will join Ethiopian network. We will continue and retain our position as a leading African based global airline by continuing to offer seamless air connectivity to the continent and will remain at the forefront in bringing the people of Africa closer and closer to the world.
What are the biggest GH challenges for you?
Ground handling is a vast service and needs higher attention because of the sensitive nature of the operation. The required level of investment on ground support equipment and skilled workforce is also high. Moreover, infrastructural limitations and getting the required level of cooperation at the required speed from other relevant agencies working at the airports are other areas of the challenges we have been facing.
What are the main opportunities for Ethiopian’s GH unit?
Ethiopian airline is the largest, most profitable and fast-growing airline in Africa. It is also one of the major global network carriers in the world. It serves more than 120 destinations in five continents out of which more than 60 are in Africa. Moreover, Ethiopian has been partnering with several African countries in helping them establish their own airline. This creates a huge opportunity for the growth of our ground services division because the partnership includes setting up ground operation services too.
Is Ethiopian Airlines looking to expand its GH operations domestically and internationally?
Of course, Ethiopian Airlines has been a Pan-African Airline right from its inception. So, we want to bring that to the next level by expanding our ground handling services to other African countries in addition to expanding our domestic operation. African integration cannot be contemplated without robust air connectivity, within Africa and with the rest of the world. We will continue to collaborate and expand our ground handling and other related services through our partnerships with other African countries.
Where will ground handling investments focus on in the short and medium term?
In short term, our investment will focus on strengthening our capacity so to continue to provide efficient and effective service to Ethiopian and other carriers operating in our hub. In medium and long term, we will increase our investment in ground handling services in Africa, possibly, in other continents in partnership with other stakeholders.
What does the future hold for Ethiopian Airlines and especially for its ground handling unit?
Ethiopian has a bright future in all areas including its ground services unit. Ethiopian Airlines Ground Services unit will be the most competitive and leading ground support provider in Africa by offering safe and reliable African wide services with global standards whose quality and price “Value Proposition” is always better than its competitors.
Do you offer any other ground services?
Yes, we do offer services other than ramp, cargo and passenger boarding including, but not limited to below:
- Special services such as meet and assist, and hotel accommodation upon request
- Catering services
- Cabin cleaning and lavatory services
- Coordinate freight and cold room services
- Lounge service as per request
- Coordinate ground handling services for both schedule and non-schedule customer airlines with its future plan to expand the business in other African countries
- Coordinates VVIP, VIP and other special handling service requests in coordination with embassies and other government institutions
- As ADD is the hub and HG of most of the international organizations and do service as a meeting centre for AU, UNDP, etc. We also organize and coordinate all the presidential flights and other special operations for military purposes.