DJIBOUTI (HAN) August 15.2016. Public Diplomacy & Regional Security News.By Muluken Yewondwossen. The company’s goal when it was reincarnated in May 2015 was to ensure the growth and success of the nation’s ports. Two months later, on August, 3 2015 the company began transporting freight with an inaugural flight between Djibouti and Hargeisa.The recently reinvented Air Djibouti plans to earn USD 750 million per year over the next five years. Although it was grounded in 2002 it reorganized itself in 2015 with the support of Cardif Aviation Ltd, St Athan, a Welch based company.
On Thursday August 11, the first passenger Boeing 737-400 arrived in Djibouti as part of a ceremony that included top government officials including President Ismael Omar Guelleh.
“The President of the Republic of Djibouti, Ismael Omar Guelleh, has shown us that Air Djibouti is more than just a company. Air Djibouti represents an integral part of the country’s identity and that is what it has remained until now. Today marks a new dawn for the company,” Aboubaker Omar Hadi, Chairman of Air Djibouti, said at the ceremony.
Omar Hadi, who is also Chairman of the Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority, said that an additional two BA146-300, British aircraft, will be deployed by mid September and mid October, and a Boeing 767-200 in December this year.
As part of the initial flight schedule, Air Djibouti will land in 14 destinations including Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, Nairobi, Entebbe, Juba, Kigali, Goma, Kisangani, Bossaso, Hargeisa, Mogadishu, Khartoum, Jeddah and Dubai.
When it begins service to Dire Dawa, 500km east of Addis, it will be the only non Ethiopian commercial airline landing outside Addis Ababa.
“In addition, Air Djibouti will transport Djiboutian pilgrims for the first time in 20 years to Mecca and Medina, in Saudi Arabia” the Chairman said at the ceremony.
According to the plan by the first quarter of 2017 the company will extend its routes to Europe and Asia. The strategy includes flying to important commercial hubs like London.
In the next five year expansion plan, Air Djibouti will deploy 15 planes and will start a capacity building program in 2017 to train 60 Djiboutian pilots, 30 engineers, more than 200 cabin crew and 480 administrative commercial and operational staff.
“All of this will be done with the support of Cardiff Aviation, which is owned by the prominent rock star Bruce Dickinson,” Aboubaker Omar Hadi said.
“Over the next five years Air Djibouti’s traffic will increase to serve 200,000 passengers, 150,000 tons of freight cargo and generate USD 750 million per year,” he said
Currently with a fleet of Fokker 27 aircraft that have a capacity of six tones each and an Antonov-26 type aircraft of the same capacity, Air Djibouti also helped to establish a humanitarian bridge to Mogadishu, Somalia and Yemen in the past year.
“Our country has always played a key role in humanitarian logistics activities especially during the food crisis that recently hit East Africa. This is why Djibouti has been strategically selected to be a logistics hub by WFP and the wider humanitarian community. They see Djibouti as a key player in dispatching assistance more efficiently and effectively throughout the region,” the Chairman said.
The government of Djibouti who is expanding logistic facilities aggressively plans to expand air freight to the other side of the continent.
The re-launch of the airline is expected to boost revenue though air logistics.
Aboubaker Omar Hadi said that through the launch of sea/air cargo transportation, Djibouti is completing the missing link in multimodal transport, confirming its position as a global trade and transport hub strategically located on the second busiest maritime route.
This route, located on the strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, links the Suez Canal to the Indian Ocean and has the ability to unleash Africa’s, economic potential.
Djibouti also sees a huge potential in aquatic tourism it believes a has strong and organized air transportation is crucial. The country is working to link the tourism sector with Ethiopia.
Djiboutian tourism experts believe that they can attract tourists who visit Ethiopia’s natural, historic and cultural attractions who wish to continue to other southeast African countries like Seychelles and Zanzibar for seaside recreation.
“If we link our facilities with Ethiopia it will be suitable for tourists because it is only an hour flight from Addis Ababa to Djibouti,” experts at the National Tourism Authority of Djibouti recently told Capital.
The country has also undertaken the expansion of airports in the capital of Djibouti and other parts of the country.
The aviation industry supports 6.9 million jobs and over USD 80 billion in GDP across Africa. And it is about to experience unprecedented growth. IATA is forecasting an average annual increase of 5.7% in Africa’s air traffic over the next 20 years. When Air Djibouti began as Red Sea Airlines in 1963 it was one of Africa’s first.