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Ethiopian Airlines reclaimed the title of “Africa’s Leading Airline” at the 2023 World Travel Awards held in Dubai, ending Kenya Airways’ two-year streak as the winner. Ethiopian Airlines had previously held the title for three consecutive years from 2018 to 2020. The airline also received awards for “Best Business Class” and “Leading Airline Brand.” Kenya Airways won the award for “Africa’s Leading Airline – Economy Class,” and its subsidiary, Jambojet, was recognized as “Africa’s Leading Low-Cost Airline.” This prestigious award celebrates excellence in the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries, and it has a history of being won by South African Airways for 22 consecutive years until Kenya Airways took the title in 2016. Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways have now each won the award four times. The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) reported that air travel in Africa had seen a robust recovery post-pandemic, reaching 94.8% of 2019 levels by the second quarter of 2023. However, African airlines still faced significant revenue losses due to the pandemic.

An Ethiopian Airlines plane lands at Seattle Boeing Field King County International airport. Africa’s largest airlone was named “Africa’s Leading Airline” at the 2023 World Travel Awards held in Dubai on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023. 


Ethiopian Airlines was on Sunday named “Africa’s Leading Airline” at the 2023 World Travel Awards held in Dubai for Africa and Indian ocean regions.

Africa’s largest airline lost the title to Kenya Airways in 2021 which went on to win it for two consecutive years. Before that, the Ethiopian airline had held the coveted title for three consecutive years beginning in 2018 having wrested it from Kenya Airways.

Ethiopian Airlines was also awarded as Africa’s “Best Business Class” and “Leading Airline Brand” for 2023. It flies to more than 150 domestic and international destinations in five continents.

Kenya Airways took home the 2023 “Africa’s Leading Airline – Economy Class,” while its wholly-owned subsidiary Jambojet took home the crown of “Africa’s Leading Low-Cost Airline.”

The World Travel Awards (WTA) were established in 1993 to celebrate what it calls “excellence across all key sectors of the travel, tourism and hospitality industries.”

Since the founding of WTA, South African Airways held the “Africa’s Leading Airline” title for 22 consecutive years starting in 1994 when Kenya Airways dislodged it 2016.

With Sunday’s win by Ethiopian Airlines, the two airlines have now each won it four times.

Since that 2016 ouster, only Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways have held the World Travel Awards title for the best airline in Africa.

At the time of this writing Ethiopian Airlines had not yet responded to a request for a statement on their latest win.

Cape Town International Airport in South Africa was named “Africa’s Leading Airport” for 2023.

According to the WTA, qualified executives that work in the travel and tourism industry along with travel buyers participate in year-long worldwide online voting process to determine the winners of the various categories.

The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) said in the second quarter of this year that air travel in Africa has continued to make a “robust recovery” post-pandemic and that as of the second quarter, air travel on the continent had reached 94.8% of 2019 levels.

According to a report released in early 2023 looking at the effects of the pandemic on airline travel on the continent, AFRAA said African airlines lost $3.5 billion in revenue in 2022 and $8.6 billion in 2021.

By Tom Gitaa

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