Ethiopian Airlines, the largest airline in Africa, has finalised preparations to begin flights to Doha, Qatar from early next month, supporting comments from the carrier’s CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam, that African airlines must redouble their efforts to compete with Gulf airlines.

The thrice-weekly flight schedule to the Qatari peninsular will bring Ethiopian Airlines’ total tally of international destinations to 84 and mark its 10thdestination in the Middle East.

“We are pleased to spread our wings to Doha, one of the most vibrant and fastest growing economic hubs in the Middle East. The flights to Doha will offer better connectivity and convenient mobility between Qatar and the continent of Africa,” said CEO Gebremariam.

However, earlier this year, the head of Ethiopia’s flag carrier voiced a more combative tone, noting that African Airline risked being be “swallowed and eaten for lunch” by Gulf carriers.

“All of us put together – Kenya Airways, Ethiopian, South African, Egyptair, Air Morocco, TAG Angola, CAM Air, Rwandair, Arik Air and so on – have only 20% of the market, and it will be a big, big challenge if we don’t do something to at least maintain 50% of the market,” he said.

He also blamed Europe for failing to help their airlines or to invest in new infrastructure, giving the Gulf airlines an easy rise to dominance on the back of their modernised hubs.

Ethiopian air chief warns of Gulf carrier risk to African operations

For Ethiopian Airlines, the initiation of flight routes back into the Gulf is part of a considered push back that has also seen Ethiopian link to Dubai, Muscat and three Saudi cities: Dammam, Jeddah and Riyadh; but also cancel routes to Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Dhahran.

As an African hub with an extensive network in Africa covering 49 destinations, Ethiopian Airlines will offers travellers from Doha convenient connections to and from cities such as Johannesburg, Nairobi, Kinshasa, Lagos, Accra, Dakar, Dar es Salaam and Entebbe.

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