Addis Ababa becomes the gateway to Africa

10 Jan 2019

Ethiopia has overtaken Dubai as the transfer hub for long-haul travel to Africa, thanks to the success of Ethiopian Airlines expansion drive within the continent and Prime Minister Abiy’s reforms since he took office in April.

The latest findings from Spanish travel consultancy ForwardKeys shows that the number of long-haul transfers to Africa via Addis Ababa Bole International Airport has grown in volume by 85% for five years in a row, between 2013 and 2017. Transfers via Dubai over the same period rose by 31%.

The firm analysed data from travel booking systems, which record an average of 17 million flight bookings a day, to determine the number of long-haul transfers to the region via Addis Ababa.

So far this year, Addis Ababa’s traffic growth is 18%, while Dubai stands at 3%.

This means that Addis Ababa Bole Airport, has now surpassed Dubai as the lead gateway to Africa.

Dubai has long been a major global air travel hub. Many passengers traveling between one part of the continent and another, or from Asia or Europe to Africa, must often transit through Dubai. But this is changing due to Ethiopian Airlines expansion drive, which sees it flying to more than 60 destinations in Africa and launching new destinations in the lucrative Asian market, as well as Europe.

ForwardKeys also attributed the recent hike in bookings via Addis Ababa in part to new-found confidence in the wake of reforms carried out by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed since he took office in April. These include signing a peace deal with Eritrea in July, a new e-visa policy introduced in June, which allows international visitors to apply for a visa on line and a promise to open Ethiopia’s markets to private investment.

And the rise of travel via Addis Ababa looks set to continue. International bookings for Ethiopia, for the period from this November to January 2019, are ahead by more than 40% over the same period in 2017 – well ahead of all other destinations in Africa.

Olivier Ponti, VP Insights, ForwardKeys, said: “Sub-Saharan Africa is a market of opportunity. Across the region, carriers are increasing seat capacity on international flights by six percent on average; that is an encouraging sign. If more governments follow the go-ahead example set by Ethiopia, including reducing conflict and taking advantage of the benefits that can flow from more relaxed visa policies, I would expect to see a healthy growth in tourism in 2019.”

…Bole International Airport to become Africa’s largest

In related news, the Bole International Airport expansion will see it take over as the largest airport in Africa upon its commissioning in January 2019.

The project to expand Bole International Airport commenced in December 2015 and the expanded terminal partially commenced service in September this year after the Eastern wing was completed. At that point, the whole project was 83% completed.

The Bole expansion will make it the largest airport in Africa in terms of passenger handling capacity, besting South Africa’s O.R. Tambo Airport, which has the capacity to handle 20 million passengers a year. Bole International will have a capacity of around 22 million passengers a year.

Once completed, the airport will cement the Ethiopian aviation industry’s dominance in Africa, and possibly push it towards global prominence as well. Ethiopian Airlines is already Africa’s biggest airline by a number of metrics.

Latest News

Browse all
We are delighted to announce that Ethiopia will take part in this year’s World Travel Market, the leading global event for the travel industry, scheduled to take place from Monday 4th November – Wednesday 6th November at ExCeL London.
17 Oct 2019
Ethiopia at World Travel Market, London
The Office of the Prime Minister is pleased to express our pride in the selection of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. This recognition is a timeless testimony to the MEDEMER ideals of unity, cooperation, and mutual coexistence that the Prime Minister has consistently been championing.
11 Oct 2019
Statement from the Prime Minister’s Office following the announcement of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2019 to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.
11 Oct 2019
Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed
The Government of Ethiopia affirms its position to advance the trilateral technical dialogue concerning the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and will reinforce its efforts to realize the development of its water resource to meet the present and future needs of its people that deserve development and an adequate standard of living.
5 Oct 2019
Statement from the Government of Ethiopia following Khartoum round of trilateral talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
A high-level delegation, led by President Sahle-Work Zewde, took part in this year's UN General Assembly in New York. President Sahle-Work delivered her maiden speech, since being elected President of Ethiopia in October last year.
30 Sep 2019
Ethiopia at the UN General Assembly
The annual meeting of ambassadors, heads of missions and senior officials offered an opportunity to take stock of the annual performance of the ministry. The previous year focussed on promoting peace and security and advancing economic integration in the Horn of Africa region.
30 Sep 2019
New Year, New Hopes and Renewed commitments
Alex Lewis and the Wild Wheelchairs team paid a courtesy call on Ambassador Fesseha ahead of their trip to Ethiopia, which will see Alex, a quadruple amputee, embark on a monumental challenge – ascending Ras Dashen, Ethiopia’s highest mountain.
27 Sep 2019
Alex Lewis and the Wild Wheelchairs team set off on their Ethiopian adventure
The Great Ethiopian Run has won the “Best International Road Race” award of The Challenge Awards. Dubbed ‘the Oscars of the endurance industry’, Challenge Awards is organised by one of the world’s biggest online entry platforms Let's Do This in partnership with Runner's World, the biggest specialist running magazine.
26 Sep 2019
Great Ethiopian Run wins “Best International Running Event”
Two blue plaques in honour of Emperor Haile Selassie’s life in Bath and visits to Weston-Super-Mare were unveiled on 22nd September by the Emperor’s grandson, Prince Michael Mekonnen. Other dignitaries including the Lord Mayor of Bath, Councillor Gerry Curran, were also in attendance.
25 Sep 2019
Blue plaques for Emperor Haile Selassie unveiled in Somerset
The Ethiopian Pulses, Oilseeds and Spices Processors-Exporters Association, in collaboration with the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Ministry of Trade and Industry, is hosting the 9th International Conference on Pulses and Oilseeds at Sheraton Addis Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on November 29 and 30, 2019. For further information, visit the conference website.
16 Sep 2019
International Conference on Pulses and Oilseeds in Ethiopia
On 12th September, Ethiopians from across the country and abroad ushered in the New Year – 2012 in the Ethiopian calendar. On the occassion, Ambassador Fesseha outlined the previous year's activities and projections for the next year.
11 Sep 2019
Ethiopian New Year Message from the Ambassador