Mumbaikars having to hop planes and languish in airports lounges en route to African countries have reason to cheer.
Ethiopian Airlines (ET) is starting two daily flights from Mumbai beginning March 29, from the current one flight daily, because of the surge in demand for flying to Africa. The heavy air traffic is owed to increasing trade, investment, and tourism ties, in addition to travel demands from the Indian community.
Due to limited seats, passengers from Mumbai currently have to opt for multicity flights to reach their destinations.
Both daily flights to Mumbai will be operated with the modern B787 Dreamliner aircraft, and the service is meant to provide optimal connectivity from India to 49 destinations in Africa.
Tadesse Tilahun, regional director, India Sub Continent, Ethiopian Airlines, said, “There is an adage that goes ‘From mules to jets’. It is literally the case with our airline. We have great faith in India and in Mumbai in particular. There is a feeling of optimism and great anticipation while we go forward planning our marketing strategies”.
Tilahun went on to say, “The traffic from India is predominantly business and labour. The strategic partnership (code-share) with Air India has helped increase revenue and we expect it to grow further. Many passengers from Mumbai fly to Addis Ababa sector.”
“Chennai and Bengaluru are also potential markets. Currently, a study is underway on the two cities and in the next one year we will start operations in one of them. “
Attempts to contact Rohit Nandan, Air India managing director were futile, as his personal assistant said he was in a meeting.
Yvonne Rodricks, senior administrative assistant, Ethiopian Airlines, Mumbai, said, “The passenger growth from Mumbai is very good which has a load factor of 74.77 % from July 2014 to January 2015. Beside Mumbai double daily flights also introduced from Delhi from currently daily one flight”.