Solomon Mekonnen, Ethiopian Airlines: “We are showing the world the new faces of Africa”
Ethiopia is Africa’s oldest independent country and its second largest in terms of population. Ethiopia is widely known as the only country in Africa, besides Liberia, not to be colonized by a European power. This month Ethiopians and Africans are celebrating the 120th anniversary of the battle of Adwa. This battle was fought on March 1st, 1896 between the Ethiopian empire and the Kingdom of Italy near the town of Adwa in the Tigray region. Ethiopian forces under the leadership of Emperor Menelik II defeated the Italian Army sent to conquer the Empire. During the twentieth century, many African nations adopted Ethiopia’s flag colors of green, yellow, and red to proclaim to the world, we too are free as our Ethiopian brothers and sisters. Not only the african flags are an ethiopian legacy on the Continent. With Ethiopian Airlines – founded 70 years ago – Ethiopia is showing Africa as the last frontier of Globalisation.
Ethiopian Airlines is the largest, fastest growing and the most profitable Airline in the African Continent. In its seven decades of operations, Ethiopian has become one of the continent’s leading carriers. Since the beginning of June 2014 Ethiopian Airlines serves Austria with four times a week flight which in this Winter was reduced to three weekly flight and which will be increased to four times a week starting July 2016.
Mr. Solomon Mekonnen who has been working the past 25 years for the company is the regional Director of Ethiopian Airlines in Austria and Eastern Europe including Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. In this interview with simon INOU he speaks about Ethiopian Airlines´s new challenges to dominate the African Sky and its policy to show the new emerging faces of the mother Continent Africa.
freshzine: For How many years have you been working for Ethiopian Airlines?
Solomon Mekonnen: For the past 25 years in various capacities. I went to the Ethiopian Airlines after my graduation, where I started to work in the accounting department and have worked in different departments with different capacities. At Ethiopian Airlines, I don´t feel like I am an employee but like a shareholder. I have been working for Ethiopian Airlines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nairobi in Kenya and now Vienna is my third Assignment.
Tell us what are your exact duties?
I look after the Operations and Sales in the region of my assignment which have been mentioned above. As you know Ethiopian Airlines operates three times a week from Vienna to Addis Ababa to connect to more than 53 destinations on the African continent. We operate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It is my responsability to make sure the operation is viable, the sales and promotional activities are done.
Last year your company made the headlines of worldwide News because you launched for the first time in the Aviation Business the very first All-Women flight crew. Why and What are the importance of women in your company?
It was not only the crew. We are the first Airline worlwide with an all-women Team (From the Planing/ and Operational Departments through technicians to the Pilots). Women have always been part of the success of our company. We are proving that Women can take over all activies at Ethiopian Airlines.
Does that mean you have enough women at the Ethiopian Airlines Academy…
Oh Yes… There are and we as Africans are proud of it. Those women are not only from Ethiopia but from all other African countries too as we are player of PanAfricanism. We are playing the role of almost the National carrier of the African Continent.
Last year your company was one of the most profitable Airline worldwide. What are your goals for this year?
This year we will have the first Airbus A350. Ethiopian Airlines will be the first African A350 operator. Ethiopian Airlines will operate fourteen A350 of which 12 are directly purchased from Airbus and 2 are on lease from AerCap, including this first aircraft. This year Ethiopian Airlines is coming back to New York by the end of June. New York is our third destination in the United States after Washington and Los Angeles.