The New Spirit Of Africa

Ethiopian Airlines, early this year, became the 28th member of the Star Alliance. The successful alliance entry was aided by long-term technology partner, Sabre Airline Solutions®.

Since its inception in 1945, Ethiopia’s national flag carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, has been steadily growing its route network across Africa and the rest of the continent. Serving more than 60 international destinations, it commands a lions’ share of the pan-African network, including the only daily east-west flight across the continent.

Along with its 15-year long-term strategy (vision 2025), it was important for Ethiopian Airlines to expand its market reach through a global alliance. Thus, after a long-time consideration, the carrier found Star Alliance to be its most compatible partner to achieve cooperation with global carriers.

Star Alliance has a network matching that complements Ethiopian Airlines’ existing route network, which was the primary reason it selected Star Alliance as its global alliance partner. In addition, the airline already had a close working relationship with some Star Alliance members.

In September 2010, it became the third African airline nominated to join Star Alliance, and in so doing, Ethiopian Airlines achieved its long-awaited strategy to offer its customer a larger network connection and ultimately the opportunity to grow its revenue base. As soon as the nomination was completed, the carrier was in search of a reliable IT partner that was capable of delivering the integration work required for joining the alliance. Consequently, after a thorough evaluation of potential suppliers, the carrier nominated Sabre Airline Solutions to assist with the alliance project.

The relationship between Ethiopian Airlines and Sabre Airline Solutions dates back to 2005 when Ethiopian Airlines selected the company as its passenger management system provider because of its unique offering of integrated systems across a large portfolio of proven software and decision-support tools.

Star Alliance 28th Member

In December 2011, Ethiopian Airlines became the 28th member of the Star Alliance. As a member, the airline provides its customers with a number of additional benefits, including worldwide reach via an extensive network as well as seamless travel and status recognition through the members’ frequent flyer programs.

Today, Ethiopian Airlines subscribes to more than 28 solutions from the Sabre Airline Solutions portfolio, including commercial support and airline operations. As the IT needs for the alliance evolved, Ethiopian Airlines was confident that the technology company would be the natural partner to support its current and future growth within the alliance realm and beyond.

Thus, toward the end of 2010, Ethiopian Airlines renewed its existing agreement for SabreSonic® Customer Sales & Service, including additional passenger management features, to accommodate the integration work required for alliance entry.

The Star Alliance project required Ethiopian Airlines to be compliant for 86 Star components, of which 28 are IT related. The project began in January 2010, and Sabre Airline Solutions was responsible for delivering 19 of the IT components, which were primarily passenger management and loyalty related.

The project, which was challenging and complex, required rigorous testing of file exchanges and establishing connectivity with Ethiopian Airlines and each of the 27 Star member carriers. To ensure the integration worked as per the compliance standards stipulated by the Star Alliance, an extensive group of experts from Sabre Airline Solutions worked around the clock until Ethiopian Airlines achieved a successful entry.

“This project demonstrates how quickly and efficiently Sabre Airline Solutions can implement the technology required by carriers joining airline alliances, or those who are already alliance members,” said Hugh Jones, the technology company’s president. “We recognize the importance of Star Alliance membership to Ethiopian’s growth strategy, and with SabreSonic Customer Sales & Service, the airline has the tools it needs to be successful.”

The project was completed in December 2011, allowing the successful integration of Ethiopian Airlines as the 28th member of the Star Alliance.

“It is another historical milestone for Ethiopian to join this most prestigious and longest-serving alliance in the world,” said Tewolde Gebremariam, Ethiopian Airlines' Chief Executive Officer. “This day will remain colorfully marked in our history book. It is in line with our efforts to lay a strong foundation for the airline to achieve its vision 2025 objectives.”

Celebrating Ethiopian Airlines’ Star Entrance

Last December, at a ceremony held at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport, the Star Alliance welcomed Ethiopian Airlines as the alliance’s third carrier based on the African continent. Several members from Sabre Airline Solutions were in attendance to help celebrate this memorable milestone for Ethiopian Airlines, including, from left, Shubham Bardhan, Kismet Abdurahman, Ellen Ehrlich, Greg Gilchrist, Maher Koubaa, Sandy McCartney and Rajeev Vijayan.

On a global scale, with the addition of Ethiopian Airlines, the Star Alliance now offers a choice of more than 21,000 daily flights to 1,290 destinations in 189 countries.

Last December, at a ceremony held at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport, the Star Alliance chief executive board (CEB) welcomed Ethiopian Airlines as the alliance’s third carrier based on the African continent.

“Today, we have taken a large step forward in completing our Africa strategy,” said Star Alliance CEO Jaan Albrecht. “With Ethiopian Airlines now part of the Star Alliance network, we offer our customers the widest choice of flights connecting to, from and within Africa. Moreover, Ethiopian Airlines will bring the Star Alliance customer benefits to more markets across Africa, a region of the world in which air travel is enjoying steady growth rates.”

As a member of the Star Alliance, Ethiopian Airlines provides its customers numerous additional benefits, including:

  • Worldwide reach via an extensive network,
  • Seamless travel and status recognition through the members’ frequent flyer programs.

Ethiopian Airlines’ Sheba Miles participants can now earn miles when flying on any Star Alliance member carrier, with the collected miles counting toward achieving Sheba Miles Silver Club or Gold Club status.

Miles can be redeemed for flights operated by any Star Alliance member airline. In addition, all Sheba Miles Silver Club and Gold Club customers will earn Alliance Silver and Gold benefits every time they travel on a Star Alliance member carrier. In addition, Ethiopian Airlines will extend the Alliance Silver and Gold benefits to status customers from all other Star Alliance member carriers when they fly on Ethiopian Airlines.

Ethiopian Airlines will also participate in and sell various alliance fare products. From a corporate perspective, Ethiopia is a vital destination for meetings and conventions. Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, is commonly known as the “political capital of Africa” because it is home to organizations such as the African Union and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. By participating in both Star Alliance Conventions Plus and Meetings Plus, Ethiopian Airlines now offers worldwide flight connections at special rates for delegates and participants.

On the leisure side, Ethiopian Airlines participates in various Star Alliance fare products. Its African routes will be added to the Star Alliance Africa Airpass, allowing travelers to choose from a variety of destinations across the continent. On the Africa Airpass, they can take between three and 10 flights to see Africa’s many attractions, seeing more than the average tourist, while paying less than the average fare.

Ethiopian Airlines also participates in the Star Alliance Round the World Fare, opening the airline’s network for those who want to travel the world seamlessly with a single “Round the World Fare.” The program offers 20,500 daily flights to 1,293 destinations in 190 countries.

To become a member of the Star Alliance, it was critical that Ethiopian Airlines had a technology partner it could rely on to ensure a smooth, successful entry. Today, as the newest member of the world’s first global airline alliance, it brings a variety of added benefits to its customers as well as to the alliance’s member airlines.

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