The plane was from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, en route Nairobi, Kenya. All 157 people on board, 149 passengers and 8 crew members, died.
The pilot, Yared Getachew, age 28, had a record of commendable performance with over 8,000 flight hours under his belt, reported technical difficulties, and requested clearance to return to the airport. Contact between the air traffic controllers and the plane was lost about six minutes after take off.
As we await investigations to be concluded, Business Insider Sub-Saharan Africa took on a flight on board Ethiopian Airlines leading up to the fateful crash.
Since it was founded in 1946, Ethiopian Airlines has enjoyed an excellent reputation for safety, maintenance, and efficiency.
Ethiopian Airlines is one of the most profitable airlines on the continent and has won several accolades in recent years including African Airline of the Year in 2015 and 2016. The airline was also named Africa's leading brand and African leading Airlines-economy class winner for the fifth year in a row during the World Travel awards 2017.
As of the end of 2018, it had a fleet of 108 aircraft, over 11,000 employees, and carried over 8 million passengers per year.
While most African airlines have flown into turbulence and failed to remain afloat, Ethiopian Airlines has managed to remain afloat and continues to soar high and cement its legacy as Africa’s most successful airline story, thanks to sound management.
The state-owned airline has also played a key role in improving intra-African travel by connecting African cities which previously required travel to Europe for connections to one another.
Currently, flying to 104 international and 19 local destinations, the airline is the largest in Africa and has since spread its wings across the continent.
In a continent where women are still marginalised, no other African airline has shown more belief and support for the African women than Ethiopian Airlines.
The government-owned airline is one of the few airlines in Africa which has employed thousands of women, who have since grown to become synonymous with the image of the airline.
“We are immensely honoured that we have women trailblazers in every aspect of our aviation field. Women are an integral part of our success story from the start and with this dedicated flight we honour and celebrate their indispensable contribution to our aviation Group and the broader aviation industry, our country and the continent at large,” Ethiopian Airlines CEO, Mr Tewolde GebreMariam said.
“Although women are Africa’s greatest resource, gender inequality still persists in our continent. Therefore, we all need to ensure that women take their rightful position in all human endeavour by creating the right conditions and through all-inclusive engagement models,” he added.
The flight from Addis Ababa - Stockholm on March 8, 2019, was operated by Ethiopian Airlines’ female professionals from flight deck all the way to the ground including airport operations, flight dispatch, load control, ramp operation, onboard logistics, safety and security, catering as well as air traffic control.
In 2018, the airline also operated four flights to Bankok, Kigali, Lagos, and Buenos Aires all entirely by women.
The results of all these are visible for all to see, working hand in hand with their male counterparts Ethiopian Airlines is now saving passengers the nightmare of connecting flights.
Addis Ababa airport has increased the number of international transfer passengers to sub-Saharan Africa for five years in a row and in 2018, the country surpassed Dubai, one of the world’s busiest airports, as the transfer hub for long-haul travel to the region, according to the travel consultancy firm, ForwardKeys.
The airline also recently opened the biggest airport aviation hub in Africa exceeding Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed inaugurated the newly expanded Addis Ababa Bole International Airport terminal early this year.
The hotel, which covers 42000 square metres with a parking lot that can accommodate more than 500 cars, is located just five minutes from the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
And even more commendable, just like a mother, Ethiopian Airlines is fully aware that it cannot save ‘Africa’ alone and is currently going out of its way to prop up other failed African airlines to make them viable again.
In 2018, Ethiopian Airlines acquired a 45 per cent stake in Zambia Airways that is set to be re-launched after more than two decades.
The airline announced that it had finalised a shareholders agreement with Zambia in line with its vision of setting up multiple hubs in southern and central Africa and the Horn.
And that’s not all, Ethiopian Airlines currently also manages Asky Airlines in Lome, through joint ownership with the Togolese government, and Malawian Airlines, also jointly with the government.
At this difficult period for the airline, it is worth noting that no other airline in Africa’s history has gone out of its way to bust the age-old myth that African airlines can’t be profitable or successful.
Since its inception, Ethiopian Airlines has flown through all manner of turbulence, headwinds, technical challenges, name it and come out of it all standing strong and steady with nothing more than a shake.
There is essentially no African airline history without Ethiopian Airlines and just like the proverbial phoenix, Ethiopian Airlines will rise again and soar high.