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Private Operators Authorized to Offer Regular Passenger and Cargo Flights in Ethiopia

The country hopes to see additional domestic connectivity.

An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Parker Davis)

On May 14, 2024, the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA) granted approval to local private operators, allowing them to provide regular passenger and cargo flight services. According to the ECAA’s press release, this authorization is crucial because it will “enable the air transport sector to contribute to the overall development of the country.” The goal is to “provide safe and guaranteed services” to investors and “encourage many investors to enter the sector.”

While existing regular domestic flights primarily connect regions to Addis Ababa, this new permission for private operators aims to enhance connectivity between different regions, fostering economic and social interaction. In addition to this, the tourist destinations that are being built in different parts of the country have been given the attention of the government and will have a significant role in making the environment accessible to visitors.

Despite Ethiopian Airlines’ success as the largest airline in Africa, the private sector in the Ethiopian aviation industry has not flourished. General aviation in the country is still in its infancy, with approximately twelve private airlines operating in the sector. Notably, none of these private operators offer scheduled flights; instead, they focus on charter flight services. Currently, Ethiopian Airlines remains the sole provider of scheduled flight services on domestic routes.

The ECAA is committed to changing this narrative. Over the past two years, the authority has taken transformative steps. The civil aviation authority has issued a directive urging private investors to construct more than 21 airstrips and helipads in various parts of the country, especially in areas that lack accessible air transport. “These will contribute greatly to the economic growth of the country when they are completed and start to be in service.”

Investors must first secure an investment license from the Ethiopian Investment Commission, while the ECAA conducts technical evaluations, safety audits, and grants operational permits. These developments are expected to significantly contribute to the country’s economic growth once they are completed and operational.

According to Times Aerospace Magazine on March 21, 2024, Getachew Mengistie, the Director General of ECAA, emphasized the positive impact of aviation. He highlighted how air transport creates job opportunities and generates essential foreign currency for Ethiopia. “To avail equitable air transport services all over the country,” Mengistie stated, “need to have the required air transport infrastructure.”

Bolstering Airport Development

Currently, Ethiopia boasts 22 airports, with four of them certified to operate as international airports. However, civilian heliports remain nonexistent, and there are only a few airstrips. The development and administration of airports have been exclusively carried out by the federal government.

ECAA operating under the Ministry of Transport and Communications of the Government of Ethiopia, achieved significant financial success as announced on April 14, 2024. The agency accumulated an impressive sum of 722 million birr (equivalent to $12.66 million USD) generated through a combination of various services, licenses, and incomes.

Victor Shalton


  • Victor Shalton

    Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Victor’s love for aviation goes way back to when he was 11-years-old. Living close to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, he developed a love for planes and he even recalls aspiring to be a future airline executive for Kenya Airways. He also has a passion in the arts and loves writing and had his own aviation blog prior to joining AirlineGeeks. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration at DeKUT and aspiring to make a career in a more aviation-related course.

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