Ethiopian Airlines, Ethiopia’s flag carrier, is set to start flying to Manila on July 9, the carrier said.
The service from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa marks the first direct route between the Philippines and Africa.
A ceremonial event will be held on Thursday at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport to mark the route that is “set to bridge the Philippine-African gap—a feat that unlocks a multitude of tourism, business and commerce opportunities for the two nations,” according to the airline’s invite.
The Philippines and Ethiopia sealed their maiden air service agreement in October 2014, as part of the government’s goal to increase connectivity to Philippine air gateways amid aggressive tourism growth targets.
Civil Aeronautics Board executive director Carmelo Arcilla said the deal, which he described as a landmark agreement, allowed for seven flights per week between Manila and Northeast African country.
Moreover, the agreement allows unlimited flights between Ethiopia and other airports in the Philippines outside of Manila, he said. To boost connectivity, intermediate stops were allowed in Singapore, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, India and the Middle East, based on the air deal.
The talks were initiated by the Ethiopian government, said Arcilla, who added that this could open up new routes between the Philippines and the Africa- Middle East region. This, as Ethiopian Airlines has been looking at Asia for expansion, he said.
Despite the interest of Ethiopia’s flag carrier, domestic airlines have been lukewarm to launching flights in this route.
Arcilla said Ethiopia’s location was strategic, given that it was an “aviation hub” in that region that serves as a transit point for passengers from other African countries and the Middle East.
“Although the current traffic between the Philippines and Ethiopia is small, the (agreement) can open up new connectivities between the Philippines and Africa, including the Middle East,” Arcilla said earlier.