The Department of Tourism (DOT) is confident that the launch of direct flights between Manila and Addis Abba in Ethiopia presents many opportunities for tourism and trade on both sides.
“We’re very confident that the service between Manila and Addis Abba, we can grow the numbers at a faster rate than what we are seeing in our traditional markets,” DOT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr. told a press briefing on the launch of Ethiopian Airlines’ maiden flight to Manila late Thursday night.
On Thursday, July 9, Ethiopian Airlines (Ethiopian) launched thrice-weekly direct flights to Manila, opening a direct business and cultural gateway between the Philippines and Africa and vice versa.
Flights from Addis Abba are offered Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, vice-versa.
“The new service opens up more opportunities for two-way traffic,” Bengzon said.
“Admittedly the base for now is still very low, but when the base is low, the opportunities for expansion are much bigger, and when the opportunity is to work with one of the fastest growing and the largest airline in Africa, well, the level of excitement is multiplied many times over and over.”
Tewolde Gebremariam, chief executive officer of Ethiopian, said, “Manila would be our strategic point access to the Southeast Asian neighboring countries by availing excellent connectivity options.”
“I’ll really make sure to talk to your country manager, talk about opportunities for familiarization tours, joint promotions and advertising, so we will be looking forward to a very strong and close relationship with Ethiopian Airlines,” DOT’s Bengzon said.
According to the official, the Philippines receives about 6,000 foreign visitors from Africa every year. He said the opportunities for growth are “enormous” because the two countries are starting from a relatively very low base.
Ethiopian Airlines operates the youngest fleet in the continent with an average of less than seven years and currently serves 91 international destinations across five continents with over 200 daily departures.
The new flights to Manila will be operated with Boeing 767-300 aircraft with 24 seats in Cloud Nine and 211 seats in Economy class.