Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Hersi: Why Boeing was right to choose Ethiopia as its African HQs over Kenya

Ethiopia has continued to dominate the African air travel industry with plane manufacturer Boeing announcing that it had chosen the country for its African hub.

Ethiopia was chosen over Kenya and South Africa. Boeing estimates that African carriers will need over 1,000 new jet aircraft within the next 20 years. 80 per cent of these deliveries will be aimed at expanding the existing fleet.

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The plane maker’s preference for Addis Ababa appears to vindicate the number one position that Ethiopian Airlines and the Bore International Airport currently occupy in Africa’s aviation industry, as Kenya and Kenya Airways that were previously considered aviation powerhouses lag way behind.

A few years ago, Ethiopia scoring such a major investment over Kenya would have been unheard of. Perhaps this explains the dismay with which such news was received by many Kenyans.


Mohammed Hersi, a Kenyan hotelier with a passion for tourism and proper governance in Africa shared his take, arguing how Ethiopia’s aviation sector has skyrocketed as Kenya’s and South Africa’s go to the dogs.

Here is what Mr. Hersi argued:

Why would Kenya or South Africa feel entitled? Why should Boeing choose Nairobi or Joburg , two countries that cannot even run a national carrier ?

SAA only exists on paper while KQ was pushed into a hole and the current MD and Chair have been struggling to lift KQ out of that deep rat hole. 20 years ago Ethiopian Airlines was nowhere, but today their fleet of Dreamliners at 39 is almost equal to our entire fleet at KQ. One-time [KQ] MD went on a spree to buy Embraer planes.

In terms of fleet, Ethiopian is 4 times larger than KQ; so why would Boeing avoid their biggest client and set up base in another country?  Nairobi is even better than Joburg since KQ is still running. Joburg is a non starter and location does not even favour them.

Ethiopian Airlines gets Sh. 69.3 billion loan to buy 5 new Boeing planes

Well let me be candid with my fellow Kenyans and also South Africans…..past glory and good English only is pretty useless when business discipline is lacking.

Why do you think KQ has delayed flights ? 90 per cent of the time, these delays are caused by pilots who have a very strong CBA with which they fly far less hours than their counterparts globally. Worst part is, KQ can never dare employ foreign pilots since that again is captured in the lopsided CBA.

It is even a miracle that KQ CEO Allan Kilavuka has kept KQ afloat. I don’t envy his position.

Now you understand why Boeing would not even waste a minute with Nairobi or Joburg. We must get our ducks in a row before others can respect us.

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