Ethiopian Airlines was a symbol of national pride. Then disaster struck

Written by on March 23, 2019

Ethiopian Airlines unveiled plans last October to build a mega-airport south of Addis Ababa. The new hub, it claimed, would handle 80 million passengers a year — the same volume as Heathrow in London.Airlines don’t normally build airports. But the project reflected the ambition of Ethiopian Airlines, which has turned itself into an aviation powerhouse in part by acquiring stakes in the national airlines of neighboring countries.Ethiopian Airlines generates billions of dollars in annual revenue and carried nearly 11 million passengers last year. Its fleet has grown to 111 planes, many of them new or just a few years old.The planned airport, near the city of Bishoftu, would help the airline prepare for another round of expansion. But earlier this month, Bishoftu was in the headlines for a different reason.Six minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa on March 10, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 plunged into the earth near the lakeside city, killing 157 people and putting the airline under a microscope.


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