Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.
When Mesfin Ashebir graduated from college, he immediately jumped into the travel industry, joining the team at Ethiopian Airlines.
Ashebir, who’s from Ethiopia and now lives in Toronto, ON, is currently Ethiopian Airlines’ country manager for Canada – a role he entered one year ago.
His job is to manage the overall operations of the airline in Canada, including representing Ethiopian Airlines at events in the leisure travel and business, as well as building relationships and awareness of the carrier’s cargo and logistic services.
What does he love most about the gig?
“It gives you the opportunity to meet incredible people from all over the world who share different passions and expertise,” Ashebir tells PAX. “The connections and networking while travelling to different countries are memorable.”
Here, PAX Checks In with Ashebir to discuss crispy golden-fried chicken, country music and the time he helped transport life-saving equipment during a critical time of the COVID-19 outbreak.
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Mesfin Ashebir (MA): My cellphone, charger and spare clothing.
PAX: What’s your favourite airport and why?
MA: Of course, the airport at Addis Ababa. They’ve made so many amazing renovations over the years and allow access to key areas to explore in Ethiopia's capital. I do enjoy going to Istanbul airport and Pattaya in Bangkok – the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen.
PAX: What was the first trip you ever took?
MA: It was my trip to Rome. The city is like an open-air museum. The historical landmarks and artifacts were spectacular to see in person, which is something I will never forget.
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip?
MA: I don't really have a specific splurge. If I see something or want to experience something on a trip, I just do it within reason.
PAX: What’s the most memorable meal you ever ate while travelling?
MA: In Bangkok – crispy golden-fried chicken from the street food vendors
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
MA: I don't really have one. I love to travel, so I am in my happy place as soon as I enter an airport.
PAX: When flying, do you recline your seat or stay upright?
MA: I recline my seat. I love to sleep – especially when it’s a long flight.
PAX: What do you consider your greatest achievement in recent years?
MA: I was part of the coordinating team with our airline during a very critical time during the COVID outbreak. We transported much life-saving equipment through our cargo services with Ethiopian Airlines worldwide. I was proud to be part of it, both professionally and personally, knowing I was part of a team making every effort to save lives during a global pandemic.
PAX: What is your motto?
MA: No pain no gain.
PAX: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
MA: To be realistic on what you can get or achieve within your lifetime.
PAX: What is your biggest fear?
MA: The fear of not being able to live your life as you dreamed it.
PAX: Who is your favourite singer or band?
MA: I like country music.
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
MA: Probably cooking. I enjoy preparing unique dishes.
PAX: How has the pandemic changed your outlook on life?
MA: Live for today.
PAX: What is the biggest challenge facing the travel industry right now?
MA: Unpredictability, susceptibility to an economic or health crisis.
PAX: What do you think this year’s top travel trend will be?
MA: I believe we will see more revenge travel this year. Leisure destinations and travelling to see family. It will have the higher share of the market.
PAX: What should travel advisors be aware of right now in regards to Ethiopian Airlines?
MA: We’re one of the best and biggest airlines in the world with wider connectivity to Africa and beyond. It’s a customer-focused airline. Most importantly for Canadians are direct flights from Toronto to Ethiopia and the ease of connectivity.
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