Ethiopian Airlines marks 75 years of operational excellence

ETHIOPIA – Seventy-five years ago on this date, Ethiopian Airlines operated its 1st scheduled flight with Douglas C-47 Skytrain aircraft from Addis Ababa to Cairo via Asmara. This diamond jubilee celebration shows how Africa’s most successful airline has made managed to navigate the turbulent skies for over 75 years.

For an airline that was founded on 21 December 1945 and commenced operations on 8, April 1946, maintaining that level of operational efficiency and management is no mean feat bearing in mind that its peers in the continent have either folded up or are struggling.

It is Emperor Haile Selassie I who asked the United States, the United Kingdom, and France to help him to establish an airline as part of his modernization effort and according to the BBC News, it is possible that the Emperor intended the creation of a quality national airline to help dispel impressions of Ethiopian poverty. In 1945, the Ethiopian government began negotiations with both Transcontinental Air Transport and Western Air Express (later merged into TWA).

On 8 September 1945, TWA signed an agreement with the American historian and foreign affairs advisor to Ethiopia John H. Spencer to establish a commercial aviation company in Ethiopia.

The new airline’s maiden flight to Nairobi carried a shipment of East African currency equivalent to US$3.7 million in February 1946, but the first revenue scheduled service was on 8 April 1946 where it travelled the Addis Ababa–Asmara–Cairo route using one of five Douglas C-47 Skytrains acquired from the US Government.

Ethiopian currently operates more than 115 of the young and most modern fleet, with less than five years of age, and has 57 fleet on order.

Ethiopian Airlines has continued to fly and create new business since 1946 and even during the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic which has ravaged the global aviation industry.


Not surprisingly, Ethiopian, true to its flexibility and vision, It used its entire A350-900 fleet for cargo operations during the period and seven out of its 16 extra-wide body aircraft have been converted to freighters by removing all economy seats while the other nine are used either for passengers or for cargo loaded on the economy seats.

World’s largest aerospace company Boeing led the aviation industry in congratulating Ethiopian Airlines for achieving this milestone.

We’ve come this far, being a proud national flag carrier, inspiring Africa & connecting the world.

“We  have come this far, being a proud national flag carrier, inspiring Africa & connecting the world”


As most airlines booked massive financial losses, making 2020 the worst year in the aviation industry financially speaking, interestingly, Ethiopian Airlines was among those which remained “cash positive” during this period.

“We celebrate you and all of your outstanding accomplishments, including becoming the largest airline in Africa. From your first DC-3 to your world-class passenger and cargo fleet today, we have watched you grow into a global network serving 100 destinations around the world and champion how you have supported others, most recently, using your jets for humanitarian flights to carry supplies to combat the pandemic,” said a statement from Boeing.


To boost its cargo capacity, Ethiopian Airlines has put up a state-of-the-art cargo terminal which is outfitted with compartmentalized cold storage facilities with temperatures between -23℃ to 25℃. It occupies an area of 54,000 square meters, with dedicated cool dollies and pharma team, as well as a real-time temperature monitoring system to ensure safe and seamless cold chain logistics for handling temperature-sensitive healthcare products.

Tewolde GebreMariam, Ethiopian group CEO, said, “Ethiopian Airlines will repeat its remarkable and globally recognised success in leading the fast delivery of PPEs few months ago with similar delivery speed, professional handling and maintaining the cold chain during the forthcoming global distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine. In anticipation of the Covid-19 vaccine release, we will be at the forefront to further discharge our responsibility in the distribution of the vaccine across the globe.” Ethiopian was among the 11 airlines picked by UNICEF to distribute Covid-19 vaccines globally

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