Ethiopian Airlines, one of the largest sources of foreign capital which bolsters the Ethiopian economy, has been severely affected by the prolonged Ethiopian Tigray war. Allegations of illegal war activity, approaching battlefront, decreased passenger traffic, and new initiatives by competitors are challenging the previous preeminence of the Ethiopian Airlines. Even before the war began in November 2020 what was Africa’s leading airline whose hub, Addis Ababa, had become the main African travel hub, was hurting due to the worldwide COVID 19 epidemic.
Now with many international agencies and governments evacuating the capital city of Ethiopia because of the proximity of the Tigray and Oromo forces many are wondering if an airport shutdown and closure of service is coming soon.
Numerous news sources have convincingly shown the airline to consistently carry munitions and troops in flights designated as regular civilian passenger flights which is against previously agreed upon international travel treaties including the Convention on Civil Aviation universally accepted around the world.
In October 2021 the Biden administration stated that strong evidence of weapons ferrying into and between Ethiopia and Eritrea would be justification for sanctions against the airline. Although officials at Ethiopian Airlines initially refuted the claims they later changed the message after numerous well documented instances were revealed to say that they were loyal and proper in what they were doing. Fair trade practices with duty free imports to the United States are governed by Ethiopia agreeing to follow human rights practices which it has not.
The new vulnerability and limits on Ethiopian Airlines is bringing in a new vigor for other African countries to develop alternative airlines instead of allowing the continuing monopoly. At the recent Dubai Airshow this past month, Air Tanzania, Uganda Airlines and RwandAir made major commitments with Airbus and Boeing to buy new aircraft while the cash strapped Ethiopian Airlines only worked on trying to lower maintenance costs. Many speculate that Ethiopian Airlines is in trouble financially because the reduced traffic has caused difficulty to make the payments on the millions of dollars in aircraft leases held.