Karachi Returns to Ethiopian’s Network After Almost Two Decades

Credit: Markus Mainka/Alamy Stock Photo

Ethiopian Airlines is restoring flights to Karachi, Pakistan, this May after an absence of almost 20 years.

The Star Alliance member will begin service from its hub at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD) to Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport (KHI) on May 1, flying four times per week aboard Boeing 737-8 aircraft. Karachi becomes Ethiopian’s 37th destination in Asia.

“As the most populous city in Pakistan, Karachi will be a crucial gateway to Pakistan and the wider South Asia region,” Ethiopian CEO Mesfin Tasew said.

The route will become the sole regular nonstop service linking the continent of Africa with Pakistan. The only other direct flights in the past decade have been a series of ad-hoc services offered by Pakistan International Airlines in 2021 which briefly operated to Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nairobi in Kenya, and Al Fashir in Sudan.

Tasew said the ADD-KHI route would make a “significant contribution in strengthening the diplomatic and economic relations between the two regions.” He added: “It will also offer convenient air connectivity to the growing number of Pakistani investors in Africa as well as tourists.”

Ethiopian first served Karachi from July 1966 to December 1971, and again from June 1993 until July 2004. However, the city has remained absent from its network ever since.

Sabre Market Intelligence data shows that O&D traffic between Pakistan and Africa totaled about 180,000 two-way passengers in 2019, 34% of whom traveled to destinations in Southern Africa. About 33% of traffic was to and from East Africa, while North Africa accounted for 19%, West Africa for 8% and Central Africa for 6%. Dubai (DXB) was the largest one-stop connecting market between Pakistan and Africa, followed by Doha (DOH) and Jeddah (JED).

The top-three largest markets on a city-pair basis were all to Johannesburg, South Africa—from Lahore, Sialkot and Karachi. Ethiopian serves Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) up to 3X-daily nonstop from Addis Ababa at the present time, as well as operating a daily service from Lilongwe via Blantyre, both in Malawi.

Karachi is situated on the southern tip of Pakistan along the Arabian Sea coast and is home to a population of more than 20 million people. The city’s airport is served by 24 airlines at the present time, led by Pakistan International Airlines with a 22.3% capacity share of departure seats, OAG data shows.

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.