Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Ethiopian Airlines Cameroon celebrates 70th birthday in Camer's Cloud Nine blog-o-sphere

1946 -2016

When the Camer bloggers team heard about the hangout with Ethiopian Airlines at their Bonanjo office, Douala, on Friday April 8th 2016, to celebrate their 70th birthday of existence, facilitated by our inspirational leader, Adeline Sede kamga, it triggered a big wave of excitement. We arrived at the exquisite office adorned with posters and miniature billboards of beaming and gorgeous Ethiopian women, airline staff and publicity messages. We greeted each other, did little chit chats to catch up and introduced ourselves to the Country Manager of Ethiopian airlines Cameroon, Mr. Tesfaye Girma and his female exec colleague, Marie Andela. That paved the way for the birthday hangout to begin.

The Country manager used a Power Point presentation to elucidate on the history of Ethiopian Airlines, its fleet of planes (76 in total including 13 Dreamliners), its operations, its destinations, the strategic positioning of Addis Ababa as a major hub in not just Africa but the rest of world and lastly, its plans for the future in an ambitious model termed “Vision 2025”.

Ethiopian Airlines Cameroon Country Manager, Mr Tesfaye
 Camerbloggers listening to the presentation
Mrs Adeline Sede Kamga in presentation mode

He spoke to us about gender balance in the airline, with the epitome of that being the historic achievement of the first all-female flight crew that dispatched a plane from Addis Ababa to Bangkok, Thailand earlier this year. The pilots, flight attendants, ground engineers, load controllers, flight dispatchers and air traffic controllers were all female! Even upon arrival in Bangkok, the Custom and Immigration officers were all female. Wow, talk about girl power! The airline wants to promote women empowerment and encourage more African girls to pursue aviation careers. Woman heeey!

 Résultat de recherche d'images pour "pics of the first all female ethiopian flight crew to Bangkok"

He also showed us a video of twelve recently recruited female Cameroonian flight attendants who had just completed their flight training in Addis Ababa. Err, Mr. Manager, can I marry one of them? They are gorgeous oh!...(Flees). Okay jokes aside, that was also to illustrate the point that, ET also serves as an establishment of employment for the Cameroonian youth, not just making money off flying people in and out of the country. And it’s not only flight attendants, ET also recruits Cameroonians as Airport ground service agents, town office workers and Customer Service agents contracted through Swissport.
Twelve recently recruited Cameroonian flight attendants for Ethiopian
Mr. Tesfaye equally asked us to educate the public about using the Sheba miles program to travel and about booking and buying their tickets online at www.ethiopianairlines.com. Hear me well, if you book and buy your ticket online, you will get a 7% price discount! Sassaye! Oya, so get your credit cards and buy online. The site is very tech secure. No one can steal “kabacha” from your cards.

And it was time for questions and answers. One blogger raised some concerns about baggage security. She said a friend of hers had lost some bags on a home flight to Douala. The country manager said it’s unfortunate that it happened, bags generally arrive Douala. And even when they get missing, they’re paid for; in accordance to baggage weight lost and not content because they cannot verify exactly how much the content of a bag costs –since it's missing.

I complained too that Ethiopian doesn’t have a well-structured baggage service department and they should improve on that. Tchassa asked when ET first came to Cameroon and about the state of the business here since arrival. The country manager answered that, ET arrived in 2003. It struggled in the beginning but things quickly improved. They used to have a flight frequency of thrice a week in Douala which increased to five times a week and then daily right now, 24/7. And it’s the long range 787 Boeing Dreamliner, one of the biggest Boeing commercial aircrafts in the world that flies the Douala route, which I’d blogged about when the first one landed in Douala. Here is the link. 


Mr. Tesfaye continued that, Ethiopian Airlines had opened a new station, Yaoundé, last year with flights to Addis thrice a week. So business is moving. I broadened perspectives a little, by saying bags get missing on all airlines! But with the top notched Airlines (and Ethiopian is one of them) they can occur too but they’re not very frequent. In December, baggage may arrive a few days late because of the high influx of Cameroonians abroad into the country and the large number of bags they always check in. The airline cannot compromise on its weight and balance calculations during loading and is always compelled to leave some bags behind, or else the plane will crash due to excess weight. Another stat, no Ethiopian Airlines plane has crashed since 1946 when they started. Seventy years of flawless flying. Amazing isn’t it? That’s largely due to their highly qualified pilots and ground engineers (maintenance crew). One of the engineers, Rahmet is my good friend. The guy’s a genius.

I added more flesh, that ET first came to Cameroon in 1985, operated for ten years and left in 1995, then returned in 2003. Marie Andela told us their first flight in 2003 had just three passengers. Ouch! That sucked. But on January 3rd 2016, I said remembered I worked on ET and we had a fully booked flight of 255 passengers to Addis Ababa, such that when I returned home, I had a back ache.

So how did they rack up such remarkable passenger figures and beat so many well established competitors in Cameroon in just twelve years? Simple. First and foremost, their flight tickets are affordable. Flying on ET which is a Star Alliance member is not as expensive as the other airlines. Secondly, the planes themselves, especially the Dreamliners which I’ve nicknamed “flying mansions” are the biggest here and are very modernly equipped. Adeline explained her first experience on board one to us. I'm lucky to have flown on one myself. They are comfortable and stuffed with a lot of entertainment options on the seat screens, like video games, movies from Nollywood through Bollywood to Hollywood and music albums ranging from Angelique Kidjo to Kendrick Lamar. I watched the movies, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” by Brad Pitt, “I am Legend” by Will Smith, “The Theory of Everything” about the British physicist, Stephen Hawking and also listened to albums by Trey Songz and Diddy. How’s that for entertainment? Also, when you push the call button in case of emergency, flight attendants literally appear in front of you in a short time and serve you with kindness and a dozen smiles. There is also food and a lot of drinks on board; juice, wine and alcohol, tea and even coffee. No, I didn't get drunk. Lol. Now imagine flying on business class on that kind of a plane. Hmmm! Have you ever heard that Naeto C song, “Ten over ten”? Da kind ting.


Furthermore, upon arrival in Addis Ababa, passengers don’t spend so much time on transit. The 1 hour or 2 hours transit passengers connect quickly and in relative ease after immigration formalities. I believe where Ethiopian really killed it, is the fact that, they actually accommodate ALL their 5 hour or so transit passengers in a good hotel. I remember when our airport bus arrived at the 4 Star Friendship International Hotel in Addis Ababa, where we spent the night, I stared at the hotel and almost went, “Should err, should I add more money to sleep here sah?” 

Now that’s unlike many other airlines that compel many transit passengers to sleep at the airport. And sleeping on an airport seat is super stressful sha! So, any doubts again why Ethiopian beat so many well established carriers in Cameroon and the whole of Africa to become the continent’s most profitable airline? On that earnings note, ET made 176 million dollars in profits globally in 2015, in an industry where most airlines are bleeding cash. Now that is what I call "The New Spirit of Flying in Africa". Oh! That's their slogan even, which perfectly depicts how ET has now earned a giant spot. Last but not least, here is my blog link to our very first hangout with Ethiopian Airlines in 2014.


Eh eh, did I also mention that, they’re the only airline in Cameroon which has sponsored two Camerbloggers hangouts, gifted us Ethiopian Airlines T-shirts and bought us mouthwatering dinner at the esteemed White House Restaurant, Bonapriso twice?  See me oh. I’m here doing Writerphilic writing. Make I run too go chop my own that NGO damay before that other bloggers them finish all ting!

Dinner at White House Restaurant Bonapriso

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