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8th April 1946:

The first scheduled flight took place to Cairo via Asmara in Douglas C-47 Skytrain. The national airline had been set up a few months earlier as Ethiopian Air Lines Inc., a joint venture with American airline, TWA (Trans World Airlines). Five US Government surplus C-47 aircraft were purchased for venture. Following the successful inaugural flight to Cairo, a regular weekly service was established. Weekly services to Djibouti and Aden followed, as well as a domestic service to Jimma. Demands for additional services were so great that towards the end of 1946, four more C-47 Skytrains were purchased. Since these aircraft were ex-US military, they had few comforts; all had folding bench-type canvas seats along the sides, with the central aisle kept clear so that cargo could be lashed to the floor.


Three more Skytrains were purchased for the international routes. These were fitted out in a ‘luxury’ layout with 21 forward facing seats and were the first to wear the colorful Ethiopian Airlines livery.

During the late 1940s the route network was extended to Nairobi, Port Sudan and Bombay. Charter flights were also flown to Jeddah during the Hajj season, carrying pilgrims to Makkah.


Two Convair 240 aircraft were purchased, followed later by a third, for use on foreign routes. These higher-performance aircraft had fully furnished interiors and seats for 36 passengers. Their pressurized cabins allowed the aircraft to fly higher, in smoother air.

By the end of 1952 the faithful Skytrains were still the mainstay for the domestic routes, linking 21 towns and cities to the capital and carrying both passengers and cargo.


Three quarters of the airline’s staff were now Ethiopian but expatriates still held most key posts. The Ethiopian government negotiated and new agreement with TWA with ultimate aim of operating entirely with Ethiopian personnel.


The fist Ethiopian commercial aircraft commander, Alemayehu Abebe, made his solo flight as captain on DC-3/C-47 aircraft.

The National Airline Training Project was set up with US Government help in Addis Ababa to train local pilots, technicians and supervisory personnel.

The airline established its own maintenance facility at Addis Ababa, reducing the need for maintenance overseas. In subsequent years the facilities expanded into a well-equipped center for maintenance, overhaul and modification work on aircraft, engines and avionic systems, not only for its own aircraft, but also for other airlines in the region.

The route network expanded with flights to Frankfurt.


The DC-6B Cloudmasters were purchased. These four-engined, 71-seat aircraft were used on the long-haul routes.


The airlines prepared to enter the jet age and decide that the Boeing 720B best met its requirements. However, the existing airfield serving Addis Ababa – Lidetta, which had been built in 1936 - was not suitable for jet operation, which required a long runway, and a decision was made to construct an entirely new airport and headquarters at Bole.


A new east-west service was inaugurated, linking Addis Ababa with Monrovia in Liberia, via Khartoum and Accra. This was the first direct air link between east and west Africa operated by any airline.


By December the new runway and control tower at bole international Airport were operational and two Boeing 720Bs arrived on their delivery flights. Ethiopian was the first airline in Africa to order Boeing 720B.


On 15th January the airline inaugurated its first jet service, from Bole to Nairobi. The following day the second Boeing inaugurated a new route to Madrid, via Asmara and Athens. Meanwhile the elderly Skytrains and their related civilian DC-3s continued to fly the domestic and cargo services and six further DC-3s were bought during the next decade. Despite their age, these aircraft were ideally suited to Ethiopia’s rugged terrain and high altitude.


The company changed its legal status from a corporation to share company. At the same time the name was changed from Ethiopian Air Lines to Ethiopian Airlines.


Colonel Semret Medhane was appointed general manager, the first Ethiopian to hold the position.


A Boeing 720B flight simulator was acquired, making the airline independent of foreign airlines for its pilot training.


Two Boeing 727s were purchased for medium-range routes, to replace the oldest Boeing 720s.


The airline bought a third Boeing 727 and two de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo short-field transports for use on domestic services.


Ethiopian Airlines attracted worldwide attention on 1st June when its first Boeing 767 landed at Bole after a thirteen-and-a-half hour delivery flight from New York - setting a new world distance record for a commercial twin-engine jet. The airline, which was a launch customer for the new aircraft, brought two of the advanced wide bodied B-767 aircraft to replace the ageing Boeing 720s. In addition to their 190-seat passenger capacity the aircraft could carry 12 tones of cargo in the hold.

At the end of 1985, when the DC-3/Skytrains started to be withdrawn, the airline still had nine of these in service, all of them at least 40 years old. The last of these aircraft remained in service until October, 1991. The main replacements were six 18-seater DHC-6 Twin Otters, and - for the busier domestic routes - two ATR-42 fast and modern 46-seater aircraft.


The Cargo Management Department was established to afford special attention to the development of the airline’s cargo services. Hitherto the airline had regarded its cargo operations more as a public service commitment that as a secondary source of income.


The airline’s Engineering Division opened a new purpose-built jet engine test facility, allowing engines of up to 45,000 kg (100,000lbs) thrust to be ground tested.

April 1996:

As the airlines celebrated its 50th anniversary the route network stretched from Europe (London, Frankfurt, and Rome) to China (Beijing) and Thailand (Bangkok). The Middle East and Indian sub-continent were well represented, and the airline’s African routes reached Senegal and Ivory Coast in the west, Cairo in the north, and Johannesburg and Durban in the south. The fleet consisted of two ATR-42 and four DHC-6 Twin Otters for the domestic passenger services, one Boeing 737 and four Boeing 757 aircraft for the medium range passenger services and three Boeing 767s for long-range services. For its cargo and non-scheduled services the airline had one Boeing 707 freighter, one Boeing 757 Freighter, two Lockheed L-100 commercial Hercules and one DHC-5 Buffalo.

The pilot training school was equipped with a state-of-the-art flight simulator, replicating the flight deck of the Boeing 767. The simulator was also used to train crews on the Boeing 757, whose flight deck is similar.

In October, 1996 the first of five Fokker 50s was acquired to enhance the domestic services.


Another giant leap was made with the launch of a twice-weekly service to Washington – the Airline’s first destination in the Americas – and New York followed shortly after.


In February, the ShebaMiles frequent flyer program was launched.

Construction started on a new, ultra-modern terminal building at Bole International Airport to upgrade passenger services and cater for an anticipated increase in traffic. In November, Scandinavia was brought into the route network for the first time with a new service to Copenhagen, Denmark, along with a new route to Maputo, Mozambique.


The airline embarked on a period of sustained growth and fleet modernization with plans to purchase, over the next four years, 12 new aircraft. Six Next-Generation B737-700s and six 767-300ERs were scheduled to replace the existing two B737-200s and two B767-200. In October, night operations out of Addis Ababa were introduced to complement the daytime flights.


The new, 3,800 meter runway and control tower at Bole International Airport became operational, along with the spacious new airport terminal with its 21st- century facilities. Renovation of the older terminal began to serve mainly the domestic flights.


Ethiopian Airlines announced that it would be Africa’s launch carrier for the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with a firm order for ten of these ultra-modern jets, and an option for five more. The order for the new fuel-efficient, long-range, passenger-friendly aircraft was valued at USD 1.3 billion. Boeing begun production of the revolutionary new aircraft in 2006 and Ethiopian expects to take delivery beginning from 2011.


Ethiopian Airlines proudly celebrated its 60 years of dependable and safe air transport services on May 05, 2006 where the Airline’s CEO had an opportunity to say a big "thank you" to all that supported the airline along the way. The same year marked Ethiopian Airlines’ modernization and capacity building programme through the construction of a new maintenance hangar and cargo terminal complexes which were officially inaugurated and commissioned.


Ethiopian was proud to have achieved two awards by African Aviation Journal and the African/Times USA. The prestigious award by the African Aviation Journal is in recognition of its excellent financial performance, passenger growth, route network expansion, fleet modernization, in-flight service and overall customer care. The 2007 Africa Business of the Year Award, presented to Ethiopian by the US African Times was for its "achievement and continuing contribution to the uplift of Africa’s profile and the quality of life for Africans everywhere".

Ethiopian also secured the IATA-IOSA registration certificate as a result of "the Airline’s fundamental commitment to provide safe and reliable air transport services for passengers and cargo".


Ethiopian entered into a code share agreement with Lufthansa which has put Ethiopian in a position to offer daily flights to its customers from its hub Addis Ababa to Lufthansa’s hub in Frankfurt with convenient onward flight connections to many other destinations around the world. During this period Ethiopian also entered into code-sharing agreements with other airlines including Brussels Airlines.


Ethiopian ordered 35 new airplanes direct from the manufacturers. Including the orders of five B777-200LR and twelve A350-900, Ethiopian has also on order ten Boeing B787 and eight Bombardier aircrafts. These investments l enables Ethiopian to operate one of the youngest fleet in Africa with better comfort and efficiency. Ethiopian Airlines and ASKY signed a management contract which enables Ethiopian Airlines to manage ASKY for a period of five years. The management contract is an important move marking an historic intra-African co-operation in the airline business. The agreement helps the two carriers to develop a West African hub in Lome, Togo for the regional and inter-continental routes.


Ethiopian Airlines has entered into a code share agreement with Scandinavian Airlines, one of the founding members of Star Alliance, providing travelers with better connectivity and a broad range of services between Europe and Africa.

Ethiopian opened new services to Pointe Noire, the second largest city in the Republic of Congo, effective June 16, 2010.


Ethiopian received three Boeing 777-200LLRs in 2011 increasing the total number of 777-200LRs to five.

Ethiopian started new services to Hangzhou-China, to Malakal-Southern Sudan, Milan-Italy, Muscat-Oman. Ethiopian also launched daily nonstop flights to Beijing with its long range 777-200.

Ethiopian received four different awards during in 2011. Ethiopian received "AFRICAN CARGO AIRLINE OF THE YEAR" Award on 24 February 2011. Ethiopian won “Deal of the Year 2010” Award on 20 April, 2011. Ethiopian Airlines also named "Africa’s Most Profitable Airlines" for the third time in a row in July 2011. Ethiopian Airlines also received the AFRAA Award for being consistently profitable over the years at the 43rd AFRAA Annual General Assembly held in Marrakesh, Morocco on November 21, 2011.

Ethiopian signed code share with Singapore airlines and Asiana Airlines,

Ethiopian Airlines ordered Four 777 Freighters from the Boeing Company.

Ethiopian Aviation Academy and Ethiopian MRO secured European Aviation Safety Agency Approval. Ethiopian Airlines Aviation Academy received the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approved part-147 type maintenance training organization certification while Ethiopian MRO Unit received EASA Part 145 approval.

On December 11, 2011, Ethiopian Airlines Captain flew the first 787 to the African soil with debut landing at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport.

Ethiopian Airlines joined Star Alliance on December 13, 2011. At a ceremony held at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport the Star Alliance Chief Executive Board (CEB) welcomed Ethiopian Airlines as the Alliance’s third carrier based on the African continent.


Ethiopian established its Second Hub in Lome - Togo

ASKY is a multinational private airline based in Lome, Togo. Ethiopian Airlines a major shareholder in ASKY and has a management contract to manage and operate its services. Ethiopian’s cooperation and partnership with ASKY Airline has introduced new connectivity between West Africa and Ethiopian worldwide network.

Ethiopian took delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner on August 14, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. Ethiopian took another leap forward by receiving its second Boeing 787 Dreamliner October 3, 2012.

Ethiopian takes delivery of the second 737-800 Sky Interior Aircraft. The airline placed a firm order for 10 of its kind back in December 2009.

In another milestone, Ethiopian again led the African aviation industry by being the first in the continent to receive and operate the B777 Freighter on 19 September 2012.

Ethiopian started new services to Toronto-Canada and Berbera, the port city of Somaliland. Ethiopian also increased frequencies on its Abidjan route by offering daily flights.

Ethiopian received five different awards during 2012. Ethiopian CEO won African Business leader of the year award from the corporate council on Africa (CCA). Ethiopian won the International Diamond Prize for Excellence in Quality by the European Society for Quality Research (ESQR) on December 2, 2012 in Brussels. Ethiopian won the "African Airline of the Year" and Captain Desta Zeru, Vice-President of Flight Operations, "Africa Legend of Travel" awards from African Travel Quarterly (ATQ) magazine.  Ethiopian also received award for Excellent Customer Service by Planet Africa Network to African Diaspora.

Ethiopian celebrates 40th Anniversary of flights to China, inaugural flight to Beijing operated with Boeing 700 on November 7, 1973.

Ethiopian takes delivery of the first of its five re-configured Bombardier Q-400 aircraft.

Ethiopian places firm order for five Q400 NextGen aircrafts.

Ethiopian ordered one additional 777-200LR (Longer Range) Worldliner adding to Ethiopian fleet of five 777-200LRs.


Ethiopian became the strategic partner of the new Malawian Air with 49% equity shareholding. The remaining 51% of the shares will be held by the Malawian Government and Malawian private investors.

Ethiopian opened a second cargo hub in Africa based in Lomé, Togo, in partnership with ASKY airlines.

Ethiopian received five different awards during 2013. Ethiopian won an Award for pioneering the African Renaissance from the President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Ethiopian won SKYTRAX World Airline Award for Best Airline Staff Service in Africa for its outstanding customer service. Ethiopian won ‘Africa’s Best Business Class Airline” award by chinese passengers. Ethiopian won Bombardiers Airline Reliability Performance Award for the third year in a row. Ethiopian won the Passenger Choice Awards for “Best Regional Airline in Africa”, the African Business of the Year Award, double awards for the “African Airline of the Year” and “Best Cabin Crew in Africa”. Ethiopian CEO won Professional Excellence Award. Ethiopian CEO won 2013 Airline Strategy Award for Regional Leadership and Professional Excellence Award.

Ethiopian started new services to Blantyre, Ndola - Zambia, Seoul - South Korea, Enugu-Nigeria, Sao Paulo Rio de Janeiro – Brazil, Niamey-Niger, Singapore, Semere-Ethiopia. Ethiopian also increased its five weekly flights to Abuja to daily service.

Ethiopian received brand new next generation Boeing 737-800 with Sky Interior. Ethiopian received its sixth Boeing 777-200LR Worldliner. Ethiopian took delivery of its first B777-300ER leased from Boeing.

Ethiopian leases two new Boeing 777-300ERs from Air Lease Corporation. The aircraft are scheduled for delivery in May and June 2015.

Ethiopian colorfully celebrated 55 years and 10 years of uninterrupted service to Frankfurt and Guangzhou respectively.

Ethiopian MRO services developed shop overhaul capability for the CFM56-3 engines.  Ethiopian MRO was granted approval for such capabilities from the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA) and the USA Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Ethiopian signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Djibouti International Airport for the provision of sea-air and air-sea cargo transport of goods in East Africa.

Ethiopian Aviation Academy became the first in Africa to graduate 26 pilots trained with Multi-Crew Pilot License (MPL).

Singapore Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines entered into codeshare agreement.


Ethiopian received four Boeing 787 in 2014 increasing the total number of B787 to ten. Ethiopian received two Boeing 777F increasing the total number of B777 to four. Ethiopian took delivery of three Cessna 172 pilot training aircraft. Ethiopian also leased B777-300ER from GE Capital Aviation Services Limited.

Ethiopian started new services to Doha-Qatar, Vienna-Austria, Kano-Nigeria, Shanghai-China, Bale Robe & Kombolcha -Ethiopia. Ethiopian also launched four daily flights to Nairobi and daily flights to London.

Ethiopian strategic partner for the southern Africa region, Malawian Airlines launcehed its first international flight to Johannesburg.

Ethiopian received eight different awards during in 2014. Ethiopian won the “Best Airline to Africa” award by Premier Traveler Magazine. Ethiopian won the “Best Foreign Airline of the Year from Africa” by Kuala Lumpur Airport. Ethiopian won the “Airline of the Year” award from African Airlines Association (AFRAA). Ethiopian won ‘Best Airline in Africa” award for the second time in a row from Passenger Choice Awards. Ethiopian won Bombardier Reliability Performance Award for the fourth year in a row. Ethiopian won the “GOLD Level Boeing Performance Excellence Award”. Ethiopian Aviation Academy won the “Airline Training Service Provider of the Year” award from AFRAA. Ethiopian also won the “Best Airline of the Year” award from MICE Magazine in China.

Ethiopian signed code share with ANA, Japan’s leading airline group, United Airlines and Austrian Airlines.

Ethiopian Airlines ordered 20 737 MAX 8s from Boeing, the order represents the largest single Boeing order by number of airplanes from an African carrier.

Ethiopian Aviation Academy joined IATA’s global training partner network as an IATA Authorized Training Center.

Ethiopian became the largest African carrier by Revenue and Profit according to IATA.

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