This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 10/30/2019

Aviation in Ethiopia is a high-growth sector with increasing demand for air transportation, both passenger and cargo, with the sector expanding at an average 20% growth rate.

The Ethiopian Airports Enterprise (EAE) carried out an expansion of the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, under a $345 million contract with China Communication Construction Company. The objective is to triple the capacity of the airport from seven million passengers per year to 21 million. The first phase of the Bole International Airport expansion project was completed in early 2019. EAE also has plans to build a major airport outside of Addis Ababa with a capacity of 80 million passengers per year at a cost of $4 billion. The new airport would be built outside of Addis Ababa at a lower elevation, reducing jet fuel consumption and enabling flights of a greater distance. Aéroports de Paris International (ADPI) has completed a feasibility study for EAE to support identifying a suitable site for the project. In August 2018, Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO of the Ethiopian Airlines Group, which includes EAE, announced that the site selected for the new airport will be Abusera in Bishoftu, also know a Debre Zeit, 50 kilometers from Addis Ababa. At present, Ethiopian Airlines management is in negotiation with the Oromia regional state to secure the land.

The Government of Ethiopia (GOE) drives growth in the domestic aviation sector by building airports throughout the country. EAE has a goal of increasing the number of total airports in the country to 25 by 2020.  Construction of Nekemte airport began in 2017 at a cost of $27.5 million. The construction of the Hawassa International Airport was completed in 2016 and Ethiopian Airlines flew its first flight to Hawassa city in April 2016. A local contractor, YOTEK Construction, built the airport at a cost of nearly $21 million. This airport was built to support the textile industrial park of Hawassa.

During the past decade, Ethiopian Airlines (EAL) has registered average revenue growth of 20% per annum. EAL has been following an aggressive 15-year plan, called vision 2025, with a goal to make EAL the most competitive aviation group in Africa. According to, in 2017, EAL operated the largest number of aircraft in Africa followed by Egypt Air and South African Airways; with the latter two operating 68 and 64 passenger aircraft respectively. EAL today operates over 100 aircraft, with over 70% of these aircraft supplied by Boeing. EAL aspires to retain its leading African airline position in both passenger and cargo loads.

Under Vision 2025, EAL seeks to double its fleet numbers, increase the number of destinations to 125, carry more than 18 million passengers and 800,000 metric tons of cargo, and improve its current $2.5 billion annual revenue to $10 billion. EAL is looking to renew and expand its flight operations using the following aircraft:
·               Bombardier Q400 airplanes for domestic flights,
·               Boeing 737 for mid-range flights
·               Boeing 787 (replacing both Boeing 757 and Boeing 767) for the long range and
·               Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 for the extra-long range.

According to this expansion plan, EAL will buy many new airplanes in the years to come.
EAL has continued to expand its number of routes in recent years. It began service to Chicago in June 2018 from Addis Ababa and EAL has announced that a new flight to Houston will begin in summer 2019. These flights will facilitate greater commercial linkages between the U.S. and Ethiopia, particularly with the vast number of U.S. firms and Ethiopian diaspora.

Ethiopian Airlines, the largest Aviation Group in Africa and a SKYTRAX certified Four Star Global Airline, took delivery of its 100th aircraft, a Boeing 787-900, on June 5, 2018. EAL is the 1st African airline to operate a 100 aircraft fleet, thus establishing its pioneering aviation leadership role and ascertaining its leadership position in many aspects of Aviation Services in the continent. In 2018, EAL selected the GE GEnx engine to power its six additional Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. This selection increases Ethiopian Airlines' GEnx-powered B787 aircraft to 19 total.

EAL has invested $100 million in expanding and upgrading its aviation academy. The scale and scope of the expansion seals the academy’s position as the largest and the most advanced aviation academy in Africa with an annual intake capacity of 4,000 students training in piloting, aircraft mechanics and technicians, cabin crew, ticket agents and procurement officials. In addition, EAL has invested another $100 million for the first phase of a new cargo terminal that will increase its cargo carrying capacity to 1 million tons, for both dry and perishable goods. The cargo terminal began operating in 2018.

Ethiopian Airlines is expanding fast into West Africa with Togolese ASKY Airlines. EAL is also partnering with Air Cote d'Ivoire, Congo Airways and delivers management services CEIBA International in Equatorial Guinea. The airline has ambitious plans; EAL is working with the Zambian government to relaunch their national carrier with a 45% stake, it also plans to establish a wholly-owned airline in Mozambique and has signed a contract to start an airline in Guinea. EAL has also taken a 49% stake in a Chadian airline. In July 2018, EAL announced a partnership with DHL Global Forwarding to form a joint venture called DHL-Ethiopian Airlines Logistics Service with an investment of 10 million Euros. According to the partners, the JV conduct business throughout Africa, consequently improving Ethiopia’s logistics infrastructure and connections. In July 2018, EAL also announced its intention to buy a 20% stake in Eritrean Airlines.

Boeing aircraft with GE engines constitute a majority of EAL’s current operating fleet. At the moment, EAL operates over 70 Boeing airplanes. In recent years, however, EAL begun to take deliveries from Airbus, including its first order of a 343-seater Airbus A350. EAL operate 14 A350 XWB, of which 12 have been directly purchased from Airbus and two on lease from AerCap. Ethiopian Airlines became the first African A350 XWB operator when it took delivery in 2016.

In the past 25 years, small private airways emerged operating small aircraft carrying less than 50 passengers, a regulatory maximum for private operators. These private airlines usually provide local flight services, mostly chartered flights, to remote locations for the diplomatic community, private entities and humanitarian non-governmental organizations. In mid 2018, the new government of Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed announced that Ethiopia would open its state-owned Ethiopian Airlines to private domestic and foreign investment, a major policy shift.

There are several market opportunities for U.S. companies in airport security, aircraft and other aviation support equipment and aviation infrastructure development.

Market size: Aircraft and parts                    Unit: USD

2018 2019 (Estimated)2020 (Estimated)
Total Market Size733,977,6392,000,000,0002,500,000,0003,000,000,000
Total Local Production--- 
Total Exports--- 
Total Imports733,977,639 2,000,000,000      2,500,000,000 
Imports from the United States.653,970,7871,087,251,0932,000,000,0002,200,000,000

 (total market size = (total local production + imports) - exports)

Leading Sub-Sectors
-               Aircraft and engine sales and leasing to both EAL and smaller charter airlines; replacement parts; and airport equipment, including transportation security technology.
-               Flight and cargo management information systems.
-               Engagement in airport infrastructure design and development and airport safety and security systems.
-               Engagement in airports commercial development and modernization projects.
-               Services associated with the privatization of EAL, such as valuation, issuance, and other advisory services.

Addis Ababa Bole International Airport completed renovation and expansion of its terminals in 2019. In addition, EAE has carried out a feasibility study and location reviews for a new major airport outside of Addis Ababa. Tenders for design and construction of the new major airport have not yet been issued, but these upcoming tenders present future opportunties for U.S. infrastructure firms. There are many opportunities for U.S. companies to bid on the design and construction of the mega airport hub city. Additionally, the new airport will need equipment, machinery, and structures related to indoor and outdoor facilities, including new headquarters, baggage handling, shopping centers, a new cargo terminal, transfers, and parking. Other domestic airports will also require communication, safety, and security equipment as planned upgrades occur in coming years. EAE requires ICT infrastructure and a commercial development plan, which should pave the way for U.S. companies to bid on upcoming tenders.

Web Resources
U.S. Foreign Commercial Service,
Ministry of Transport
Ethiopian Airlines
Abyssinian Flight Services
National Airways
Air Ethiopia (Addis Airlines)
Zemen Flight Services
Ethiopian Airlines
Ethiopian Airports Enterprise
Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority


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