* Ethiopian Airlines Spends 6.9 million dollars on integration process
Ethiopian Airlines (ET) is to be fully integrated into the Star Alliance Group at the end of October, 2011 after a process that took a little over a year and cost 6.9 million dollars.
“The integration will be finalized at the end of October or first week of November,” Tewolde Gebremariam, CEO of the airline, which recorded a 43pc increase in operational revenues from the previous year, told Fortune.
However, the celebration of ET’s full integration into this elite group of carriers is to happen slightly later than that.
“The date is being worked out to make it convenient to those who will be attending,” Tewolde told Fortune. “It will definitely happen before the end of this year.”
The celebration of an airline becoming a member of the Alliance is usually a big deal with as many of the CEO’s of the member carriers attending as possible. When ET’s acceptance as a future member was announced, a similar event was held. It was announced here in Addis Abeba in September, 2010 in a ceremony where the CEO of the Alliance and some of the CEO’s of the 27 full member carriers were present. Lufthansa Airlines was appointed as a mentor to ET to help the integration process planned to be completed a year later.
“As Lufthansa knows us better than any of the other member carriers, it was selected as a mentor for ET,” Tewolde told Fortune. “They have been guiding us on how to go about the process with Star Alliance and each carrier.”
ET had to fulfil 83 components to become a full fledged member, which according to Tewolde, is almost done. A major component was the IT compliance, according to the CEO who took over the helm of ET almost a year ago.
ET uses SABER booking system, which is one of the major systems used by many carriers. However, this system had to be connected with the central system of the Star Alliance headquarters, as well as with each of the 29 member carriers.
Part of the perks of joining Star Alliance for ET is using the alliances network for selling seats on the same flights, giving passengers more departure times to choose from on a given route and easier connections and transfers between flights. Passengers of ET will be able to redeem their frequent flier miles from these carriers as well.
As one of the requirements of becoming a member of the alliance is to display the logo of Star Alliance, one of the aircrafts of ET will be fully clad fully with it.
“We have chosen one 767 aircraft for that, which is in the process of having that done,” Tewolde told Fortune. “It flies to Europe, Asia and in Africa where most of the alliance member carriers are located.”
This would be an addition to the achievement of ET becoming a new member, which will be the third African airline, along with South African Air (SAA) and EgyptAir to join the Alliance.
The whole process cost the airline in money, employee time, and redesigning some of the process came to 6.9 million dollars, which has not been paid in full yet.
Established in 1997, by five airlines: Air Canada, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines Systems, Thai Airways International, and United Airlines, Star Alliance is the biggest network of airlines in the world. Collectively its carriers have 21,200 daily flights to 1,185 airports in 185 countries.
Flying to 40 destinations in Africa, Ethiopian Airline’s full integration brings a big market in Africa to the alliance.