Ethiopian Airlines H1 net profit up 9 pct

ADDIS ABABA, March 20 (Reuters) – Ethiopian Airlines’ first-half net profit climbed 9 percent to 515 million birr ($46 million), the airline said in a statement on Friday.

Revenue rose to 6.7 billion birr in the six months ended Dec. 31, a 54.8 percent increase on the same period a year before.

Ethiopian Airlines Chief Executive Girma Wake said profit increased due to growth in traffic, the introduction of new routes, an augmentation of cargo revenue and streamlining of the airline’s operational and marketing sections.

‘Ethiopian remains optimistic its performance will be sustained going forward considering the strategic cost reduction efforts and improved operating procedures we have in place,’ he said.

The airline carried 1.5 million passengers, a 19 percent increase on the same period last year, and doubled cargo carried to 55,000 tonnes.

The state-owned carrier dropped flights to the United States and China last month as the global financial crisis hit passenger numbers.

(Reporting by Barry Malone; Editing by David Holmes) (For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: http://af.reuters.com/) ($1=11.200 Ethiopian Birr) Keywords: ETHIOPIA AIRLINES/ETHIOPIAN 767 VS883_933