UPDATE: Ethiopian Airlines indeed offers a currently 66% discount on domestic flights, if you're an Ethiopian resident, or if you fly into/out of Ethiopian with Ethiopian Airlines. When trying to book a domestic flight on the official website, you'll be asked if you satisfy one of the above conditions, and a discount will be applied automatically. This practice does seem a bit protectionist/monopolistic though, as the answer pointed out.

I am planning a trip to Ethiopia. It seems that to travel between Ethiopian cities, the easiest way is to take flights operated by Ethiopian Airlines.

Normally for trips in Europe/America etc., you would book flight tickets well in advance in order to have the best prices.

However, on the official website of Ethiopian Airlines, I was surprised to see that the ticket price seems to be exactly the same for planes departing tomorrow, as well as for planes departing five months later.

Dec 24 ticket

Jul 22 ticket

Also, the ticket prices don't seem exactly cheap. They're certainly much more expensive than many European flights.

Is this situation normal? Or is there some place where I can find cheaper tickets for future dates? This is something I've never seen with any other airline.

If the price is the same anyways, I might just as well buy them much later, in order to keep my schedule flexible.

  • 8
    I had the same experience with Vietnam airlines flying domestic in Vietnam. No matter the destination no matter what date the price was almost the same. Low and behold I asked a friend to check locally on their domestic website and not only were the tickets almost 10 times cheaper they also varied a lot based on the dates. Maybe there is something similar going on... Jul 21, 2019 at 1:06
  • Please ask the 50% discount question separately to avoid making this too broad.
    – JonathanReez
    Jul 21, 2019 at 2:20
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    I am Ethiopian airlines customer, I saw this situation on their website and am confused how can be same price after two days and five days same price. I think it is more expensive for a local air ticket than outside air ticket. For example to Nairobi, if you look for local ticket from ADD- Jijiga before two day it is 4500 birr 50 min go and back. If you look for abroad ticket from Add-Nairobi is 5000birr only with 3 hrs. Therefore is more expansive local flight than abroad ticket.
    – Warde abi
    Jul 21, 2019 at 21:12
  • 1
    Five years ago, Ethiopian domestic flights were less than half of the online price when booked upon arrival at Addis airport. Jul 22, 2019 at 0:45
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    @MatthewBarclay In Germany for example there are plenty of flights available for 20-30 EUR, if you book early enough. Much cheaper than Deutsche Bahn. Low-cost airlines are really popular here.
    – xji
    Jul 22, 2019 at 18:42

1 Answer 1


Ethiopia was formerly a fully state-controlled, Marxist economy and despite slow liberalization, many sectors remain government controlled. This includes aviation, where Ethiopian Airlines has a de facto monopoly on domestic flights. Hence fares are both high and fixed: it's a legacy of state control and there's no competition.

That said, it may apparently be possible to score cheaper flights via travel agencies in Ethiopia, so it may be worth exploring other options. Bear in mind that Internet penetration in Ethiopia also remains low, so if your schedule is flexible, it might make sense to do this after arrival.

Incidentally, Ethiopia is not alone in this pricing scheme, I recall running into the same system in eg. Laos and a number of Central Asian countries as well. Often there's a dual pricing system that charges top dollar for foreigners and has subsidized pricing for locals, but I'm not sure if this is the case for Ethiopia as well. (Update: It appears this is indeed the case, with a 66% discount for residents & people traveling to/from Ethiopia on Ethiopian Airlines.)

  • I wouldn't assume it's cheaper in-country. You're paying in dollars with hard currency, whereas in-country you might have to turn up with a big pile of local notes - ET needs to pay for fuel in dollars, so there will be a cost in handling local currency (including inflation risk). I suspect, because of low internet penetration, there is less yield-managed market-pricing and more like old-fashioned fixed-price flexible ticketing. Jul 22, 2019 at 17:04

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