Ethiopia airlines recently completed its 86,000 square metre terminal expansion at Bole International airport, Addis Ababa making it the second largest capacity airport in the continent after South Africa’s O.R. Tambo International. Bole now has the capacity to serve up 22 million passengers a year.
The $300 million project has seen the airport transition from an ordinary terminal to a distinct ultramodern facility geared towards biosafety. The Covid-19 pandemic has seen the airport adapt to high levels of hygiene and the digitization of most of its processes in efforts to achieve contact-less travel.
The airport features state of the art thermal scanners, 30 self-check-in kiosks, 60 check-in counters, 32 arrival immigration counters with eight e-gates, 16 security screening areas, touch-free sanitizing gel dispensers and socially distanced gate seating.
“We are now providing a contact-less experience,” Ethiopian Airlines’ Miretab Teklaye, director of integrated marketing, said.
Experience at the airlines will be a bit different prior to the pandemic. The airline recently unveiled its mobile app and a chatbot-assisted shipment tracking service to elevate cargo customers’ experience.
Clients use the Ethiopian airlines mobile app to book and pay for their flights, check in, print tags, drop baggage, scan the boarding pass at immigration or at the lounge.
“The newly unveiled cargo mobile app and chatbot-assisted cargo tracking service will bring convenience to our customers, allowing them to access real-time updates about their shipments and to process their charter requests,” added Teklaye.
Like other commercial carriers, Ethiopian airlines suffered great losses in passenger flight revenue due to the pandemic to a tune of $1 billion by June this year.
However, the airline’s woes did not translate to bailout requests, layoffs or salary reductions like is the case with other Airlines, instead, it focused on cargo and managed to still reap profits deploying and distributing millions of Covid-19 medical supplies and PPE donations from China and the UN across Africa, Canada, US, Europe, Asia and South Africa.
The airline also took on Norway’s fish exports and Kenya’s flower exports doubling its cargo revenue and expanding its cargo routes to 74.
“If cargo hadn’t been our strategic pillar back in 2010, we couldn’t do anything now,” Teklaye said.
As the pandemic rages on, with little progress made towards a cure, preventive protocols are essential for the airline to pick up from where it left. The skies have opened up around the world and it is up to a country to ensure the safety of its travellers and boost the confidence of every planned visitor.