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Why Ethiopia needs more than one International Airport

A Yehdego 12-10- 2015

Whoever wants to travel to any part of Ethiopia needs to pass through Bole International Airport, because though some airports in the country have the title 'International Airport', it is in name only. No international flight ever uses any of them, except Bole. This discourages travelers who may want to fly to other Regional States directly. As some might remember, when Eritrea was part of Ethiopia, International flights used to land in Asmara, at the then Hastey Yohans IV International Airport. Now Ethiopia is left with only Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa.

More than ten years ago, I brought up this issue to the attention of Aigaforum readers asking:" why Hastey Yohans IV International Airport in Axum does not facilitate international flights just as Asmara used to do?" As a result, I received mixed point of views from readers saying, "it is the matter of business..." or" may be not enough passengers to the region", or "... it is up to the federal government to decide." and so on.

Anyone who travels to any part of the country for any reason, has to go through Addis Ababa because, that is the only International Airport serving flights in the country up to now.

Today, even though international passengers coming to Ethiopia are much greater number than during the old days, does it make any business sense that Ethiopia's only International Airport is only Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa?  Currently, all international passengers inbound or outbound have to go through Bole International Airport. An international passenger going to other part of the country has no other way but to go through Bole. It is incredible but true that there is no other choice except taking domestic flights or buses. It is a matter of take it or leave it situation. What happened to the maxim: the customer is a king, and making it smooth to the paying customer?

Why does Addis Ababa have to accommodate all international passengers when the destination of most passengers is in fact, in other Regional states of the country? It is not guess, but a fact that those passengers who want to go to other regional state in Ethiopia would not have any interest wasting their time and money in buying domestic plane or bus ticket to get to their destination. Ethiopian Air Line should facilitate their need and make it easy to go directly to their desired destination. It is high time that decision makers on this matter should take action to implement Regional International Airports to serve for both domestic and international passengers.

It is for this reason that the Federal Government spent millions of dollars building International Airports in Tigrai, Region, Amhara region, Oromia region, Afar region and some others. So, why not use Bahridar or Axum or Mekelle International Airports for direct international flights.  

It is known that the International flights from Middle East, America and Europe inlet/outlet is over The Nile River, so, instead of passing their destination International passengers who are heading to that region should be able to use one of the above airports. It also helps any local

Passenger who from those areas to reach home faster and cheaper. In addition, Ethiopian Diaspora fliers would increase flying home in a very short time than wasting time passing through Addis Ababa.

Let us say I am coming from Middle East, to visit northern Ethiopia for few days. If my vacation is only one week and I want to spend it with my family in Bahridar, is it fair that should go to Addis Ababa? When my main purpose coming to Ethiopia has nothing to do with Addis Ababa, why should I waste my time and money in Addis Ababa?  People like with one-week vacation want see their relatives quickly, but since there is no direct flight, they have to spend the time in Addis or they don't come to Ethiopia until they get more time.

Having international flight and appropriate hotels accommodation in the Regional states would create jobs and generate revenue.  Therefore, the Authorities in the Regional States in this regard need to work little harder to make the International standard accommodation available.

It is clear that there may be more work that needs to be performed to accommodate international passengers. These can be immigration service and internal revenue issues.... etc. However, is it any harder than building International airports which Ethiopia did years ago?

As I said, the authorities of the Federal Government had done a good job building International airports in the above mentioned regional states; in anticipation of International passengers coming to Ethiopia. In addition to foreign visitors, Ethiopian Diaspora travel is also increasing every year doing business in Ethiopia, not only in Addis Ababa but all over the country. Therefore, international quality for passengers' accommodation in the Regional States would be the best way to go for the Regional states and for the country in general.

Otherwise, Bole International Airport for all international passengers will not suffice. As a result, having accommodation for international passengers in all respective international airports in the country based on their demands in timely manner is important for success for all stock holders on this issue.

If there is no international flights accommodation in other Regional States however, it is inconvenient for investors and discourages Ethiopian Diasporas and others from going out of Addis Ababa to Regional States for any reason for that matter. .

Again. I would like to say job well done to the authorities of the Federal Government of Ethiopia for having good policy and the people of Ethiopia for working hard and make it possible. I believed without the Federal Government Authorities and the people of Ethiopia as the whole working as a united force in building the above dynamic projects and beyond, would not be ready for service today.

Stating this fact however, it does not mean there is no imperfection in Ethiopia, and there is nothing that needs improvement. The hard working and peace loving Ethiopians are facing hardship with few bad apples in the big basket. There are some lower bureaucrats in the shadows going to the wrong direction. The more you go to lower rank government employee personnel the more complicated can get your case.

At least in my judgement, these bad apples in the governmental institutions are not real part of the government, instead they could be double agents serving other interests, or worse, saboteurs, or they just don't know how to do their job. Many people are crying because of them. Not every victim can reach the big officials at the top to complain and get solution without somehow a retaliation. I am afraid those bad apples remain unfold and promote by mistake again and victimize the people. This is because the ordinary people live very close to lower rank bureaucrats.

In contrast however, there are many dedicated and hardworking low rank young government employees who are serving the people with honesty according to the law and regulations of the country.

I am not an expert in this regard but I have seen some government officials working hard as much they could to serve the people. It is amazing and encouraging when you see those hard working government appointees who are underpaid working 24/7 on the clock without any complaint. When I see those hard working government officials, I got hope and encouraged that the few bad apples will be gone and the people of Ethiopia will enjoy the fruits of good governance practiced everywhere in the near future.

I strongly believed as always, the Federal Government should expose bad apples out of their umbrella and give them swift justice. To make good governance work under the law and justice, the Federal Government trouble shooting mechanism is already investigating going down to know what exactly is happening against the government's policy. I hope bad apples will show up in court of law soon.

Without missing my main point however, I would like to go back to the International Airports' issue. I am wandering however, if the Ethiopian Airline and Ethiopian Civil Aviation are working to facilitate International passengers fly direct to their destination without spending time in Addis Ababa in the near future. I hope they do soon. If not unless otherwise, someone, who has the right and convincing answer to tell why hundreds of thousands international passengers coming to Ethiopia with their primary purpose to come to Ethiopia, has nothing to do with Addis Ababa may have negative impact on the tourism as a whole.

International flights coming from Middle East, Europe, America pass  through North west of the country or near the Nile River I should say so  why not land in Bahridar, in Axum or in Mekelle International Airport to drop those going to that area, and pick others passengers who want to go to Addis Ababa?

More than ten years ago some readers respond was, it is the matter of supply and demand and some it is up to the federal government and there is not enough passengers and more. What thought might have readers this time on this issue?

If you are one of them check this year's tourism report on Ethiopia. Ethiopia racked third as the best tourism destination in the world. So there are more international passengers to Regional states than ever today. That is the reason domestic flights monopolized by Ethiopian Air Line is so busy taking advantage of the situation.  All international passengers from Addis Ababa to the Regional states are under controlled by Ethiopian Airline.

 Now Ethiopian Air Line has to open its door to competition with international flights to serve passengers coming outside of Ethiopia. Ethiopian Air Line is so busy in the Regional States every day and yet the equilibrium between supply and demand is not even close to meet its expectation. I think it is not fair on consumer perspective. As a result, the decision makers on this regard should consider both sides: the consumers' and the Air Lines' interest.

Ethiopian Air Line is government owned firm, and we all like it to be profitable and successful, and it is one that Ethiopians take pride. However, the consumers' interest is also important and should be respected and be part of the equation.

In order to get more business for the country, International passengers’ satisfaction is one of the key tools.




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