ETHIOPIA – Ethiopian Airlines, the largest and most profitable carrier in Africa has announced a 17 percent increase in its operating revenue in the year ending June.
According to the airline,as a surge in passenger numbers helped to offset the impact of higher fuel costs, the carrier told Reuters on Friday.
“In one of the most challenging years, we managed to continue our fast, profitable and sustainable growth,” the airline’s CEO Tewolde Gebremariam told Reuters during the release of its preliminary results for the period.
Africa’s biggest airline said operating revenue rose 17 percent in dollar terms while passenger numbers were up 14 percent.
It flew 12.1 million passengers during the year to June, helping to cushion an increase in fuel costs of about 25 percent.
Planes were three quarters full on average, a key performance measure for the industry.
Ethiopian said it offered 13% more seats per kilometre during the reporting period ending in June.
In March, one of the airline’s Boeing planes crashed a few minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa en-route to Nairobi, killing all 157 people on board.
This unfortunate incident forced the airlines, to ground its fleet of four Boeing 737 MAX while investigations continue following a similar accident in Indonesia five months earlier.
The airline’s CEO said that it was not yet clear when the MAX planes will be allowed to fly, and the carrier was grappling with a lack of planes for expansion due to the grounding.
Mr. Tewolde however, revealed that the airline had plans of acquiring 17 new passenger aircraft and launching flights to 11 new destinations.
The airlines CEO also expressed concerns that an economic slowdown due to the U.S.-China trade war could affect demand this year.
“The U.S. and China are our top markets and we are now seeing an impact on cargo services. The global cargo service has already showed a 7% decline and we expect the same trend… This is very concerning,” he told the television station on Tuesday.
The full set of results is expected in the next two weeks, the company said.