Five Questions with Samson Arega
You recently added an A350 to your Toronto-Addis Ababa route. What differences will your passengers notice?
We are excited about our A350 Airbus. Passengers will enjoy a little more room. There is abundant overhead storage for both our business class and in economy. The state-of-the-art air conditioning system splits the cabins into multiple zones allowing more flexible temperature control. The new entertainment systems, show high-definition video on all upgraded screens of up to 12 inches, even in economy. There is more legroom as the design and structure of the seat with the power cables accommodated underneath the floor. Of course, having WiFi on board gives additional access to all our passengers flying with us. So many great features!
Ethiopian Airlines hopes to add Montreal to its network and go daily from Toronto. When might we see that happen?
We are working on our Montreal route. It is an excellent opportunity for Ethiopian Airlines, as we have seen such positive feedback and interest from Canadians. Increasing our flights five times a week out of Toronto over the past couple of years has been incredible. We knew that it would only be a matter of time before we would offer other destinations from Canada.
What advantages does being the only sub-Saharan carrier directly linking Canada and Africa bring?
Canada is an essential market for us, and with its large African diaspora, we know this will continue to grow. Canadians are travelling to Africa for investments, trade and tourism relations, and by providing that connection from Canada to over 60 African destinations, we know this is an advantage for passengers. We offer them the connectivity within Africa and to several other international destinations. Ethiopian Airlines is the hub to Africa where passengers can easily plan other points of interest for business or leisure.
Ethiopia is enjoying a growing tourism industry. Tell us about some of the country’s primary attractions.
The landscapes are epic, the history rich and the people proud. Exploring Addis Ababa, we offer complimentary city tours, that include visiting the National Museum, which exhibits Ethiopian art, traditional crafts and prehistoric fossils, including replicas of the famous early hominid, “Lucy.” The burial place of the 20th-century emperor Haile Selassie is at the copper-domed Holy Trinity Cathedral. Tourists can also experience an authentic Ethiopian coffee ceremony and opportunity to taste some fantastic dishes throughout the city. Lalibela is a must. It’s known for its distinctive rock-cut churches dating from the 12th and 13th centuries, and another historic city called Aksum is in northern Ethiopia. It’s known for its tall, carved obelisks, relics of the ancient Kingdom of Aksum. Most are in the northern Stelae Park, including a huge fallen pillar, now in pieces; Centuries-old St. Mary of Zion is a Christian church and pilgrimage site believed to have housed the biblical Ark of the Covenant. The neighbouring Chapel of the Tablet is said to contain the Ark today. An excellent recommendation is witnessing one of the many festivals that are an integral part of the traditional culture. For example, the Timkat Festival in the historic city of Gonder, famous and known for its 44 Adbarat (churches and monasteries) and its alluring royal castles. There is so much to explore in Ethiopia. Endemic wildlife can be seen in the mountain and wilderness areas, and one of the enormous diversity of tribes can be found in her south Omo Valley region. Simien Mountains are known as the “rooftop of Africa.” This dramatic mountain scenery provides habitat for numerous endemic species, including the Gelada baboon and Ethiopian fox.
Moreover our passengers can enjoy the newly built Ethiopian Airlines five star hotel, Ethiopian Sky-light which could give a panoramic view of the capital city.
What sort of presence does your carrier have elsewhere in Africa and do you have many clients travelling beyond Addis Ababa?
Ethiopian is one of the big success stories in African aviation. As part of Star Alliance, it has given us access to more routes and sharing agreements with partner airlines. Ethiopian has been honoured as the “Best Airline in Africa” for the third consecutive year at the Skytrax 2019 World Airlines Awards. Our customers do travel beyond Addis Ababa; we are the hub of Africa connecting passengers efficiently and conveniently.