In November 2015 Ethiopian Airlines made headlines around the world when it flew with an all-female flight crew from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Bangkok, Thailand. In November of 2016 the carrier’s Ethiopian Aviation Academy – which is the largest aviation academy in Africa – graduated 322 aviation professionals including 47 pilots, 92 aviation maintenance technicians and 50 cabin crew members. But the real game changer for the African carrier came with the announcement that a whopping 145 of the 184 aviation professionals who graduated at a ceremony held at the Ethiopian Aviation Academy on Saturday, 18 February 2017, were women.
And though there were reportedly no women pilots in the mix this time around – 90 of the graduates are from Cabin Crew and Catering, 84 from the Academy’s Commercial and Ground Operations Training School with the remainder stemming from the school’s Equipment and Facility Maintenance programs – the fact that so many of this most recent crop of graduates were women speaks volumes about Ethiopian’s dedication to fostering homegrown talent and diversity across the board as the carrier continues to grow and flourish in the digital age.
Currently implementing a 15-year strategic plan called Vision 2025, which Ethiopian hopes will help it maintain its multi-award-winning record as the fastest growing airline in Africa, the carrier has registered an average growth of 25% in the past seven years while also squashing gender stereotypes by pushing indigenous women to the forefront of all its services. Ethiopian is literally changing the face of African aviation one graduate (or 145 of them) at a time.
Longtime Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam handed out the diplomas to the carrier’s latest crop of graduates at last week’s ceremony and honored the Academy’s top performers with special achievement honors as well.
“Education is the greatest equalizer in our highly integrated world today and for this reason we are putting great emphasis in training young Ethiopians and our African brothers and sisters in order to enable them to develop the required global standard qualification to fly successful African Airlines,” says GebreMariam. “We are very proud of our Aviation Academy achievements and global standard capabilities in various professions in the Aviation industry. In line with our vision 2025, we are expanding the capacity of the Academy to accommodate from 1,000 today to 4,000 students by 2025. Today’s graduation is a continuation of this long journey.”
Taking a moment to congratulate the graduates and their gathered families and friends, GebreMariam also thanked the Academy staff for their “hard work and achievements” in helping to make so many of Vision 2025’s goals a reality.
Certified by the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority, the US Federal Aviation Administration, the European Aviation Safety Agency, and IATA Safety Audit (IOSA), the Ethiopian Aviation Academy has been providing training for pilots, aircraft maintenance technicians, cabin crew, and marketing personnel; and leadership development for Ethiopians and other nationals from Africa, the Middle East and Asia for more than seven decades. And with IATA forecasting last October that the African aviation market will be one of the fastest growing (percentage-wise) over the next 20 years and could see an added 192 million passengers a year for a total market of 303 million passengers by 2035, Ethiopian’s forward-thinking Vision 2025 initiative is a solid step towards meeting that demand.