INSIDE the atrium of a gleaming new building on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, trainee air stewards flit between the classrooms and aeroplane simulators that surround a large indoor swimming pool. The expensive aviation academy belongs to Ethiopian Airlines, and seems a world away from the unrest that on October 9th prompted the government to declare a national state of emergency. The firm’s CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam, brushes off the idea that the airline will be affected. “We are not concerned,” he shrugs.
He has reason to be confident about the business. Ethiopian is Africa’s largest and most profitable airline, earning more than its rivals on the continent combined. Its expansion has been rapid: by 2015 it served 82 international destinations, with 13 more added this year. According to unaudited figures, it nearly doubled its profits in the last financial year (see chart). And that is amid national turmoil.
It helps that its regional rivals are competing only feebly on routes in Africa. According to the International Air Transport Association, African carriers are likely collectively to record a net loss of $500m this year….Continue reading