Ethiopian Airlines 08/09 net profit leaps 165 pct

Fri Aug 7, 2009 10:53am EDT

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* Net profits rise 165.3 percent

* Operating revenue up 32.8 percent

* Cargo up 38.4 percent, passengers up 12.3 percent

By Tsegaye Tadesse

ADDIS ABABA, Aug 7 (Reuters) - Ethiopian Airlines [ETHA.UL] said on Friday that its full year net profit more than doubled to 1.3 billion birr ($118.6 million) from the previous year due to an aggressive marketing campaign and major cost cuts.

The African carrier's operating revenue for the year to June rose 32.8 percent to 12.2 billion birr, Chief Executive Girma Wake said. Passenger numbers rose 12.3 percent to 2.8 million, while cargo increased 38.4 percent compared with the previous year.

"Our profits increased due to an aggressive marketing campaign and a major cost-cutting effort," a spokeswoman for the airline told Reuters. "We introduced seven new routes which also contributed to our growth, including routes to Saudi Arabia and Nigeria."

In 2007/08, it had made a net profit of 507 million birr.

Wake told a news conference that said Ethiopian Airlines had placed orders for five 777-200 LR (long range) planes made by Boeing (BA.N), twelve 350-900s from EADS's EAD.PA Airbus unit and eight Q400 turboprops from Bombardier, at a total cost of $4.5 billion.

He said the airline had paid down payments for all the aircraft on order and planned to take out loans from European and the U.S. banks to pay for the balance.

Boeing is due to deliver the planes by 2010, while the aircraft are expected to be received by 2017, Girma said. ($1=11.340 Ethiopian Birr) (Additional reporting by Barry Malone; editing by Daniel Wallis and Karen Foster)

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