African Aviation: Ethiopian Airlines hires Tourvest to manage in-flight Duty free

Tourvest Inflight Retail Services has won a management contract in a competitive tender to operate the inflight duty free programme and provide technical expertise to Ethiopian Airlines – the fastest growing and most profitable airline in Africa.

Commenting on the new appointment, Mr Tewolde Gebremariam, Ethiopian Group CEO said that in line with the airline’s vision 2025, this new cooperation will help to deliver a continuous improvement in the airline’s customer offerings.

He added… “this cooperation with Tourvest will help us to widen the choices of our Sky Duty Free retail with the best-in-class product varieties and with new services like pre-flight E-commerce orders through our website and with more convenient forms of payment in cash – or various credit cards delivered by their TourPOS (Tourvest Point of Sale) inflight tablet device.”
Adding his comments, Clive Jones, CEO of Tourvest said: “Ethiopian Airlines has 76 aircraft in operation with another 42 on order, delivering a service to over 7m passengers per year, covering 92 international destinations, across five continents. Given these impressive credentials, we are therefore very proud and honoured to be awarded with the opportunity to be associated with such a progressive and respected airline on the continent.”

‘A WORLD CLASS INFLIGHT EXPERIENCE’
He added: “Based on our initial engagements with the Ethiopian Airlines team we are excited by the energy to innovate and provide their customers with a world class inflight retail experience, which is exactly the mutual trust that we require to create a differentiated value proposition.”
Tourvest says that strategically it is well positioned in the distribution of inflight duty free product on the African continent, given its extensive footprint in key markets, including South African Airways, Kenya Airways, TAAG (Angola) and now Ethiopian Airlines – plus international routes operating elsewhere in the world.

This latest win for Tourvest is a prestigious one, considering Ethiopian Airlines’ high reputation in Africa and beyond. For example, the carrier won the African Airline of the Year 2016 Award last May, receiving the accolade during the 25th Anniversary African Aviation Air Finance Africa Conference & Exhibition and African Aviation Summit in Johannesburg.

MULTIPLE AWARD WINNER
It is also a multiple award winner, receiving no less than 16 prestigious awards in the last two years – including the highly regarded CAPA Airline of the Year at 2015 Aviation Award for Excellence last year.
The award was made in recognition of its financial performance, fleet modernization, route network expansion, inflight service, overall customer care and its ‘outstanding contribution to aviation development in Africa’, following seven decades of operation.
The airline – a Star Alliance member – now claims to be the fastest growing in Africa with a 76-strong active fleet, including 13 Boeing 787 Dreamliners. In addition, it has 42 aircraft on order, including six Dreamliners, plus 14 A350-900 Airbus aircraft.

YOUNG AND MODERN FLEET
The airline has an average fleet age of five years and is 100% owned by the Ethiopian Government, having made a net profit of Birr3.15bn ($148m) in the year ending June 2015.
Internally, Ethiopian also operates its own training academy for cabin crew, pilots, aircraft technicians, marketing and sales and management and finance staff – plus multiple aircraft simulator training for B787s, B777s, B757/B767 and B737NG and others. All of these facilities have prestigious ICAO Center of Excellence approval.

As mentioned, the carrier is also currently implementing a 15-year strategic plan called Vision 2025 aimed at positioning the group in Africa at seven business centres.
These include Ethiopian Domestic and Regional Airline; Ethiopian International Passenger Airline; Ethiopian Cargo; Ethiopian MRO; Ethiopian Aviation Academy; Ethiopian In-flight Catering Services; and Ethiopian Ground Services.

Significantly, IATA ranked Ethiopian as the largest airline in Africa in both revenue and profit in 2014, while the airline also has a long history. In the past seven decades it has been a pioneer of African aviation as an aircraft technology leader, providing the first jet service in the continent in 1962, the first African B767 in 1984, the first African B777-200LR in 2010 and the first African (and second only to Japan) B787 Dreamliner in 2012.

TOURVEST RANKS IN THE TOP THREE
Meanwhile, Tourvest also operates programmes with British Airways, Kenya Airways, South African Airways, SA Express and TAAG, amongst others, resulting in a total passenger count serviced by the company in excess of 50m across more than 300 routes.
The company also includes training and support for the 28,000 inflight crew members within its client base, plus end-to-end software and hardware solutions, proprietary warehouse management software and tablet-based TourPOS (Tourvest Point of Sale) devices.
Besides numerous other services, Tourvest has also won 16 international awards and is rated amongst the top three inflight retail operators in the world with an annual turnover in excess of $160m.

ADDIS ABABA AIRPORT EXPANSION
At the same time, Ethiopian’s hub airport is Addis Ababa Bole International Airport – one of Africa’s largest – which has a capacity to handle more than 6.5m international and domestic passengers each year.
However, Ethiopian Airports Enterprise (EAE) is currently in major investment mode and has committed up to $4bn to build a whole new modern four-runway facility some 40 miles outside Addis Ababa with a passenger capacity for 100m passengers a year.
This feasibility study is currently being completed by a specialist team from Aéroports de Paris, with the very serious aim of creatig a brand new international hub with top class facilities in the region.

HOME AIRPORT ALSO BEING UPGRADED
In the meantime, EAE is continuing to upgrade Addis Ababa Bole so it can can handle more than 20m passengers a year when the expansion is complete in 2018. The new terminal will eventually house modern boarding areas, lounges, recreation centres, shopping malls, offices and other facilities. New boarding gates and bridges, plus new parking areas are also integral parts of the expansion project.

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