Ethiopian Airlines has announced it will become the first airline to offer scheduled service to Goma on the far eastern border of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following the recent restoration of a destroyed section of Goma International Airport’s runway by a German construction company.
Addis Ababa-based Ethiopian Airlines, which says it is the largest airline in Africa, is launching three-times-weekly service to Goma on July 10, offering one-stop service to the city via Entebbe in Uganda, one of six countries which lies next to the DRC’s long eastern border.
“As a truly indigenous Pan-African carrier, we consider our flights to Congo and elsewhere in our great continent as part of our responsibility to contribute to the development of Africa and to serve as a critically essential vehicle for the flow of investment, trade, tourism, and job creation,” says Tewolde Gebremariam, Ethiopian Airlines’ CEO.
Goma is located on Lake Kivu next to the Rwandan city of Gisenyi and also only 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) due south of the crater of the active volcano Mount Nyiragongo.
In 2002, an eruption from Nyiragongo created a lava flow which covered the northern 1-kilometer (0.62-mile) section of Goma International Airport’s 3-kilometer (1.86-mile) runway, destroying that section of the runway and reducing its effective length to 6,545ft (1,995m).
Subsequently, three fatal accidents and one serious non-fatal incident (an overrun of an MD-82 into the solidified lava at the north end of the runway) have occurred at or near the airport. All have involved commercial aircraft or business jets,
Ethiopian will operate its flights to Goma with Boeing 737-800 jets fitted with Boeing Sky Interiors. Goma will become Ethiopian Airlines’ third destination in the DRC, in addition to Kinshasa and Lubumbashi.
The carrier’s schedule for its Goma service will see flight ET0811 departing Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport (IATA code ADD) at 1:00 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from July 10 and, after making a stop at Entebbe International Airport (EBB), landing at Goma International Airport (GOM) at 2:55 p.m. local time.
In the other direction, flight ET0810 will leave GOM at 3:35 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from July 10 and, after making an intermediate stop at EBB, will reach ADD at 7:30 p.m. local time.
Goma will become Ethiopian Airlines’ 52nd African destination and its 91st international destination overall.
Star Alliance member Ethiopian also flies to Brazzaville and Point Noir in the Republic of Congo, which borders the DRC directly to the north. Brazzaville lies directly on the other side of the Congo River from Kinshasa, which is Africa’s third-largest city after Cairo and Lagos.