The airline that helped build a country

27 Jul, 2021 - 00:07 0 Views

The Herald

The Rhodesia Herald, 

July 27, 1971

THERE is a story about an American woman tourist who boarded an Ethiopian Airlines jet and then discovered that the flight captain was an Ethiopian.

She struggled to free herself from her safety belt, complaining loudly that she did not intend to risk her life in a plane piloted “by a black”. 

What this woman did not know is that Ethiopian jet pilots are not a rarity. Most of the airline’s planes are flown by Ethiopians, and through the airline’s 25 years, not one passenger has been killed on a scheduled flight.

Ethiopians are understandably proud of both these records, and they doubt whether there is another airline in Africa that can claim as much. 

There are 18 Ethiopians jet captains out of a total of 29. The others are Americans.

The “no-passenger-killed” record should not be lightly dismissed, since Ethiopia is a far from an ideal country for flying. 

It is a country with a high central plateau, majestic mountains and terrifying gorges.

There are high altitudes, air pockets and mist-enshrouded mountain tops as potential hazards, not to mention airstrips that are often muddy uneven and short.

LESSONS FOR TODAY 

 Racism continues to rear its ugly head in various aspects of life including sport, business and politics.  

 Until the formation of the airline, Ethiopia was almost isolated from the outside world, partly because it is the only African country that was never colonised.

 Ethiopia is believed to be Africa’s original name.

 No one in Ethiopia today doubts that Ethiopian Airlines is the best thing that ever happened to the country and the continent since the war.

 Ethiopian Airlines is one of the best, most efficient and friendly airlines in Africa.

 When the West imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe, it led to the withdrawal of a number of international airlines. But, Ethiopian Airlines stood by Zimbabwe. 

 The airline has continued to support Zimbabwe by transporting vaccines from China.

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