Facts about Ethiopian Airlines

2010-01-25 13:14

Nairobi - Ethiopian Airlines, whose jet crashed on Monday after takeoff from Beirut, is one of Africa's fastest growing airlines and has had a good safety record for more than a decade.

The carrier started operations in 1946, a year after it was founded, and is considered to be among a trio of sub-Saharan aviation giants, alongside South African Airways and Kenya Airways.

It serves 56 international destinations with 210 weekly international departures from its Addis Ababa hub and a total of 555 weekly international departures worldwide.

On its website the company says it hopes to increase revenue to $1bn and to increase the number of destinations it serves to 60 in 2010.

Ethiopian Airlines, which say it employs more than 5 000 people, currently has a fleet of 37 aircraft and 35 more on order.

Last week Boeing said that Ethiopian had ordered 10 737-800 jets, in a deal valued at $767m.

Other major security incidents

Until Flight 409 lost contact with Beirut airport control shortly after takeoff early Monday and crashed into the Mediterranean, Ethiopian had a better safety record than any other African airline, with the exception of South African Airways, industry sources said.

Apart from an emergency landing earlier this month that left no casualties, the two incidents involving the company go back more than 10 years.

Earlier this month one of the company's 757s made an emergency landing at Malta's airport while on its way from Addis Ababa to Rome. The pilot reported a problem with one of the two engines. The passengers continued their journey via London Heathrow while the plane and its crew remained in Malta.

Other major security incidents involving Ethiopian Airlines go back more than a decade.

In November 1996 Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 was hijacked between Addis Ababa and Nairobi by three Ethiopians seeking political asylum. The aircraft crashed into the Indian Ocean off the Comoros when it ran out of fuel, killing 125 of the 175 people on board.

In September 1988 one of the airline's Boeing 737s made a crash landing at Bahar Dar in Ethiopia after birds entered both engines during takeoff. Thirty one of the 105 people on board were killed.