Ethiopian Airlines will begin flying to the capital city and the main commercial hub of Malaysia, Kuala Lampur in November.
Tewolde Gebremariam, Chief Executive Officer at Ethiopian Airlines said the flights will help to connect the extensive Malaysian business class in Africa, including Ethiopia as well as servicing Malaysia’s small Ethiopian expat community, mainly composed of students.
“We hope that this expected commencement of flight will help Malaysian companies based in Ethiopia like those of the oil company Petronas, which has been involved in oil and gas exploration projects in Ethiopia on and off for the past decade,” Tewolde said adding that the route will also serve as a networking opportunity to connect with other South East Asian countries like, Singapore, Philippines and the region’s most populous country Indonesia.
The trade volume between Ethiopia and Malaysia in 2011 stood at USD 83.7 million shooting up from 2002 figures of USD 4.6 million, a more than 224 percent growth in trade volume.
Malaysia, a South East Asian Country often called “Asian Tigers,” along with Taiwan and Hong Kong for their robust, innovative economies, registered in 2011 a Gross Domestic Product of USD 271.2 billion in 2011 and a GDP growth rate of 5.1 percent.
The country has a population of 28.3 million people, lying on a land mass area of 330,803sqm. Its currency is called Ringgit Malaysia (RM) and is valued at 3.06 RM per dollar as of March 2011.
However the opening of route to Kuala Lampur will not be the last major route that the Ethiopian will open. In December it plans to fly to Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Tewolde said that the opening of the route to Sao Paulo will help in being a connecting bridge to other countries with Africa, India, Israel and China.
Ethiopian Airlines expects many travelers to Brazil including a substantial business class. Brazil’s famous historical and beach sites open up great prospects for tourism in both countries.
According to Marcelo A. Borges, first secretary and deputy mission at the Brazilian Embassy to Ethiopia, when the route begins it could mean a whole new market opportunity for business people and tourists from Latin America’s largest country and sixth largest economy in the world.
He also said it could potentially make Addis Ababa Bole International Airport a hub for travelers from Latin America who are going to other African nations. Currently, no Brazilian airlines fly from Brazil to Ethiopia.
Ethiopian currently has 68 flight routes around the world; by 2025 it expects 90 plus destinations in five continents, carrying 18 million passengers and 710,000 tons of cargo with 120 aircrafts by employing 17,000 workers and using three regional hubs interconnected with the main hub in Addis Ababa.