Ethiopian Airlines has launched a new route to Turkey's Istanbul with flights set to depart from April 1, 2019.
Istanbul will be the airlines' 120th international destination and the direct service from Addis Ababa will operate three times per week. The route will be serviced by a Boeing 737-800, the predecessor to the Boeing 737 Max 8, which has been grounded since the Ethiopian crash on March 10.
The announcement was made on Twitter and in a press release and comes 10 days after the fatal crash in the Ethiopian capital. Conversely, the airline’s Facebook page does not mention the new route – the most recent post there refers to an update on the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max that was published on March 14.
Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO said: “It gives us great pleasure to launch flights to Istanbul, connecting Europe’s largest city to the over 60 African destinations we serve, through our hub Addis Ababa.”
The airline is forging ahead as investigations into the crash that killed 157 people continue. Travellers and partners have stayed loyal to the airline which, other than having to cancel flights that were set to operate on its Max fleet, has not reported any uptake in cancellation or booking rates since the incident.
Social media users tweeted their confidence in the airline after the announcement of the new route. One user called the carrier "The true pride of Africa" and another said she was proud of the airline.
Ethiopian Airlines has grown massively in recent years from a fleet of 35 planes in 2007 to 111 in 2019. It now flies to 52 more destinations than it did a decade ago.