Monday, January 9, 2012
Ethiopian - A Shining Beacon of our Nation
Ethiopians are famed for quite a number of things, among others, such as, being the original home of the human race(the recently found 4 million-old hominid, Ardi, is to be recalled); the long-race running, which has produced worldwide legendary athletes as none before, such as Abebe Bikila, Mirus Yifter, Haile G/selassie, Derartu Tulu, Meseret Defar and many others; the sundry magnificent historical sites, (such as Lalibela, Axum, Fasil Wall, and the like that vividly portray the former civilization); Dallol Depression which is nature’s unique endowment in the midst of diverse climate ; the distinctive eating traditions and cuisines that, I’m sure, have become addictive to many foreigners, the multifarious dazzling cultures of the no-less than 80 ethnic groups …and so on. In case if you’re unaware, there’s one more addition to these, in fact, a peculiar one. This addition is the prestigious emblem of the nation and the continent at large - Ethiopian Airlines (EAL) (commonly known as Ethiopian), which is precisely the focus of this article.
Launching its first flights in 1946, with no other airline in place in the whole of Africa, with the national flag of the country on it, Ethiopian is a pioneer in African aviation. According to Aviation Week, Ethiopian maintained an excellent reputation under the different regimes. Particularly, after it started flying Boeing 720 jets in January 1963, it has shown its capacity as one of the best world class 3 airlines. Pioneering long range, thinly traveled routes to unique city pairs was an enduring part of Ethiopian's methodology, noted Air Transport World. For instance, in 1975, EAL introduced the first direct service to China (Beijing) from Africa. While such moves were risky, Ethiopian attracted quite a good number of competitors and generally became profitable within a few years. Ethiopian continued to thrive even in the two global aviation downturns: one which followed the 9/ 11/ 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, and the other is the current global economic recession, where we have witnessed absolute collapse of many airlines, even that of developing and developed nations. Apart from the direct travel services, Ethiopian has its own school for pilots and mechanics that was established to train personnel from Africa and the Middle East, and has so far graduated enough capable technical crews for many countries across the continent and beyond. Through all these, the fast-growing airline has opened employment opportunity for more than 2,000 people.
Ethiopian pilots and airline crews are highly-esteemed for the meticulous skills and gifts they exhibited in various difficult and trying circumstances. One instance in which such scrupulous talents were demonstrated by Ethiopian technical crews on board was the situation in the Comoros Island in 1996 on EAL B-767 aircraft which was en route from Addis to Nairobi, where 53 people were rescued despite the attacks of terrorist hijackers who wanted all on board blown up. Out of the attempted 10 major hijackings in Ethiopian, according to AirDisaster.com, all the incidents were safely over except that of Comoros Island, which has its own great merits, as well, thanks to the wonderful talents of the technical crews. Needless to say, Ethiopian has won numerous awards for excellence and indeed one of the safest airlines in its long history.
I for one (I believe there were many like me) haven’t yet fully enjoyed reading and entirely discussed the repercussion of the good news with others that was published by a couple of international reports (just before the recent aircraft ordeal) which heralded: “Ethiopian ordered 10 Boeing Co's (BA.N) Next-Generation 737-800s for a total price of $767 million,…” (Reuters, January 22, 2010) when, all of a sudden, popped up the tragic announcement of our own Boeing 737 which fell into the Mediterranean with 90 people on board last week. I sincerely take this opportunity to offer my condolences to those who lost their loved ones in this shocking disaster. Since its inception, Ethiopian has never ever encountered such a grave catastrophe, other than this one whose cause has still been inexplicable until this point in time. Whatever the root cause might have been, the all-Boeing operator Ethiopian which has already built a solid reputation globally and has ambitious growth plans, too, undoubtedly remains in the forefront to be the pride and shining beacon of our nation and the continent at large.