Ethiopian Airlines is the flag carrier of Ethiopia, based in Addis Ababa, the capital city of the country. Its main hub is Bole International Airport at Addis Ababa. It is the fourth largest African airline, in terms of passengers and destinations. The national airline of Ethiopia, it operates scheduled international passenger and freight services to over 50 destinations across the world. Apart from that, it provides domestic services to 32 destinations and even operates passenger and cargo charter flights. Ethiopian Airlines is wholly owned by the government of Ethiopia. As of March 2007, it had 4,700 employees.
Ethiopian Airlines was established on 30th December 1945, by Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. It began operating with a weekly service between Addis Ababa and Cairo, with the first flight on April 8, 1946. Its first jet service began in January 1963 and flew from Addis Ababa to Nairobi. In 1965, the airline converted into a share company, from a corporation, and changed its name to Ethiopian Airlines (from Ethiopian Air Lines). Ethiopian Airlines mostly relied on American pilots in the beginning, but started recruiting Ethiopian staff and pilots by the time it completed 25 years of its existence.
In 1987, Ethiopian Airlines was featured in the coveted magazine, The Economist, and touted as an example of brilliance. In 1998, the airline started transatlantic services as well. It was labeled as "one of the most reliable and profitable airlines in the Third World" by Paul B. Henze, the renowned Ethiopian author, in 2000. In 2007, it imparted pilot and aviation training to trainees from Rwanda, Tanzania, Chad, Djibouti, Madagascar and Sudan. Other training was provided to the employees of Kenya Airways, Air Zimbabwe, Bellview Airlines, Cape Verde Airlines and Air Madagascar.
The airline covers 35 destinations within the country and 50 destinations across the world. It serves U.S and France, Germany, U.K, Italy, Rome, Belgium and Sweden in Europe. In Asia, it caters to India, China, Israel, Thailand, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Yemen, Lebanon and Bahrain. In Africa, it flies to Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Angola, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa, Senegal, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Congo, Djibouti and Rwanda, among others.
Ethiopian Airlines has a fleet of 27 in-service aircraft, consisting of ten Boeing 767-300ER, eight Boeing 757-200, five Boeing 737-700, one Boeing 737-800, and five Fokker 50. It has also placed orders for 18 new aircrafts, to be added to its fleet. Ethiopian Airlines' Freighter Fleet comprise of Antonov An-12, Boeing 747-200F, Boeing 757-200F, Boeing 757-200PCF and McDonnell Douglas MD-11F.
Ethiopian Airlines is a part of three global airline alliances and is also seeking the membership of Star Alliance. It has code share agreements with Gulf Air, Kuwait Airways, Lufthansa, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airlines, Thai International, Brussels Airlines and BMI. The Airlines has closely linked its frequent flyer program, Shebamiles, with the 'Miles & More' program of Lufthansa. In July 2008, Ethiopian Airlines entered a strategic partnership with ASKY Airlines, fledgling venture based in Lome. Ethiopian Airlines has a 25% stake in this venture.