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A lockdown-by-consent policy has created a “unique situation” for business aviation in Ethiopia, according to Dawit Lemma. The Addis Ababa-based founder of Krimson Aviation told CJI Global delegates Ethiopian government policy of voluntary lockdown and the subsequent decision by Ethiopia Airlines to continue flying throughout the pandemic transformed the region into a portal for many attempting to repatriate as travel restrictions tightened.
“Ethiopia is one of the only countries to not implement an official lockdown – it’s voluntary. We shut down our office at the end of March but our operations team had to come in because Ethiopian Airlines kept flying and they’re still flying to about 30 destinations. Especially to Europe, North America, South America and even China,” said Lemma.
This created a “very unique”, situation continued Lemma. “A lot of ex-pats were repatriating. Everybody wanted to get home and Ethiopian Airlines was the only airline allowing them to fly home. So, what we saw was a lot of non-traditional passengers coming on a charter flight – whether that’s a Caravan up to a Dreamliner. Coming in specifically to catch an Ethiopian Airlines flight.”
Referencing WINGX numbers, listing 14 departures from Addis Ababa Bole airport in May, Lemma said seven were Krimson’s. Those were two United Nations-related flights, one tech-stop and crew change, three repatriation flights and one medical evacuation. “Not one corporate business-related flight,” said Lemma, “But of those seven flights, five interlined through Ethiopian Airlines.”
Looking outside Ethiopia, Krimson organises flights across East Africa. Lemma remarked that year-on-year averages for flight permits had exceeded 2019 levels in May and the good news didn’t stop there. “If you look at the type of flights, again: repatriation, cargo, medivac, all essential flying. So, I think this region has experienced, dare I say it, growth or opportunities because of Covid.”
Meanwhile, Lemma featured in Corporate Jet Investor Quarterly’s Day In The Life profile in Q1 2020. Read how coffee fuels his working day.