Ethiopian Airlines has commenced flights to Gaborone in a move seen as boosting tourism and supporting Botswana’s fledging diamond beneficiation sector. The first flight from Addis Ababa enroute to Cape Town touched down at the Sir Seretse Khama International airport (SSKIA) at 1355hrs on June 30 with 89 passengers on board including top Ethiopian executive.
This is the 51st destination in Africa and Esayas Woldemariam, MD Ethiopian International Service said it will make it easier to connect Botswana with the international community.
“It will be easy to travel. Instead of going to other places and seeking transit visas, (with) Ethiopian Airlines there is no need to get transit visa to travel,” Woldemariam said after landing in Gaborone.
He added that the flights will also boost Botswana as a tourism hub and support the diamond cutting industry, which needs reliable transportation for dealers travelling to Gaborone from international diamond cities.
“We are looking at Botswana because of its people, its diamonds and safari,” added Woldemariam. The airline will fly 3 times a week to Gaborone. The maiden flight was a culmination of the signing of Bilateral Air Services Agreement sometime back.
Ethiopian Airlines, the 100% Ethiopian government owned airline transports 6 million passengers every year and operates the youngest fleet in the continent with an average of less than 7 years and currently serves 87 international destinations across 5 continents with over 200 daily departures.
“We are covering the entire planet,” said Woldemariam, adding that they are everywhere in Africa.
The Coordinator of Botswana Transport Hub, Neil Fitt challenged the local business community to use the opportunity provided by Ethiopian Airlines. “The opportunities (like) moving cargo through SSKIA are huge,” he revealed. Other opportunities include a code sharing agreement with the struggling Air Botswana and there is also a chance to have Botswana as the southern African hub to feed the sub-continent.
“With your worldwide web, we can feed you with a Botswana based regional hub,” pleaded Fitt. Ethiopian Airlines believes that the route will add efficiency to the downstream industries such as tourism, investment and diamond trading that heavily depend on robust and reliable aviation sector.
It said travellers from Gaborone will be able to enjoy seamless and convenient connectivity options because of Ethiopian extensive network covering 5 continents and destinations. “The new flights connecting Addis Ababa and Gaborone will play a critical role in the expansion of trade, tourism, diamond trading and investment facilitating mobility and connectivity for businesses and leisure travellers.”
The Cape Town and Gaborone routes will be the airline’s 50th and 51st African destination respectively. “Our new flights connecting Addis Ababa and Gaborone will play a critical role in the expansion of trade, tourism, diamond trading and investment facilitating mobility and connectivity for businesses and leisure travelers,” said Africa’s biggest airline.
Ethiopian fleet includes ultra-modern and environmentally friendly aircraft such as the Boeing 787, Boeing 777-300ER, Boeing 777-200LR, Boeing 777-200 Freighter and Bombardier Q-400 with double cabin. It will fly a 737 on the Botswana route with a plan to use a Dreamliner in future. Another east African airline, Kenya Airways already flies to Botswana.