Ethiopian Airlines has been honored with the best International Airline in Nigeria award at the just concluded Abuja Jabamah Wonders of Nigeria Expo. According to the organizers of the event, Ethiopian Airlines in 2020 was the best performer in Nigeria among the non Nigerian airlines as it handled more than 50% of the evacuation flights in and out of Nigeria.
This award comes as Ethiopian Airlines celebrates one year anniversary of conversion of B737 into a Freighter creating a “Preighter”. Ethiopian Airlines operated its first cargo only service on a passenger aircraft with its Boeing B787-900.
The flight departed on 25th of March 2020 from Addis Ababa to Kinshasa carrying more than 16 tons of much-needed PPE and other shipments inside the cabin and the belly of the aircraft. Following the sharp decline in passenger number due to the pandemic, the Airline swiftly shifted focus to cargo operations and became among the very few pioneers to load cargo on passenger aircraft’s cabin.
Receiving the award from the Ambassadors of Trinidad and Tobago Wendell Lago and the Ambassador of Jamaica Esmond Reid, Mrs. Senait Ataklet the Traffic and Sales Manager thanking the organizers explained that although the year 2020 was a difficult year for everyone, Ethiopian Airlines pivoted to cargo to shore up its fortune.
According to Senait Ataklet the pivot to cargo by Ethiopian Airlines saw the airline converting some passenger airplanes into freighters. She invited the tour operators to include a stopover at Addis Ababa for all their tours.
Immediately afterwards, Ethiopian demonstrated remarkable agility in its response to the increased cargo demand in the wake of the pandemic by reconfiguring 25 passenger aircraft into freighters using its own internal MRO capabilities and distributed the much-needed Personal Protective Equipment and medical supplies across the globe. A year since its first Preighter operation, Ethiopian has operated 5,645 Cargo flights on the cabin of passenger aircraft and transported more than 121,750 tons of cargo across its vast global network. The flights added an immense value to the total of 33,182 flights and 735,869 tons of cargo transported during the period from March 25, 2020 to March 25,2021.
Commenting on the milestone, Ethiopian Group CEO Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam said “Today marks one year since the beginning of our first Preighter flight service as a way to manage the unprecedented global crisis. The single Preighter flight that started on this day last year has helped our airline navigate the storm so far. We are extremely honored to have served our customers during the most difficult times. Ethiopian Cargo and Logistics Services has been a critical player in the global fight against the pandemic by distributing medical supplies and PPE to places with limited access to transportation.“
Since the start of its first cargo flight on passenger seat last year, Ethiopian has been increasing its capacity to become an ideal shipment partner of many humanitarian organizations including the WFP. Besides, Ethiopian has been hailed for its efficient delivery of essential medical supplies donated by Alibaba Foundation, WHO and donor governments to all African countries. The airline is currently working in collaboration with UNICEF and Cainiao for the global vaccine distribution.
Other winners at the annual event include Arik Airlines which was chosen as the Airline of the Decade in Nigeria from the Year 2010 to 2020. Ibom Air won the award for the Best Airline in Nigeria. The Abuja Expo was a 2 day event that included a training for Nigerian Tourism Professionals. It was the first physical meeting for Tourism Professionals in 2021. Abuja Jabamah is an annual tourism event in Nigeria for domestic tourism development.
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