The carrier is to become the third African airline within the Star Alliance, joining existing members Egyptair and South African Airways.
Ethiopian Airlines will be mentored during the joining process by founder Star member Lufthansa, with the aim of integration within the next 12 months.
The carrier will add five new countries to the Star network (Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Mali, and Niger), and a total of 29 new African destinations, and will bring the total number of Star carriers to 29.
Star Alliance said that the acceptance of Ethiopian Airlines is “an integral part of Star Alliance’s Africa strategy”, citing market studies conducted by IATA and ICAO which show that Africa is forecast to have the second highest growth rate in air traffic over the coming years.
Commenting on the acceptance Jaan Albrecht, CEO Star Alliance said:
“On behalf of the Chief Executive Board, it gives me great pleasure to invite Ethiopian Airlines to join the Star Alliance network. Ethiopian’s extensive intra-African network will provide more choice for our travellers and bring the Star Alliance benefits to new markets. Moreover, we will in future have three main hubs in Africa – Addis Ababa, Cairo and Johannesburg – allowing for an ideal access to the continent from either the North, Centre-East or South.”
Ethiopian Airlines is due to take delivery of a number of new aircraft over the next few years, including orders for Boeing Dreamliners (see online news July 29, 2009), B777-200LRs and Airbus A350-900s.
Recent Star Alliance entrants include Brussels Airlines (see online news December 11, 2009), TAM (see online news May 13), and Aegean Airlines (see online news June 30). However Shanghai Airlines is due to leave the alliance at the end of October, due to its merger with prospective Skyteam member China Eastern (see online news April 16).
Report by Mark Caswell