January 14 2020 .. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s recent state visit to African countries like South Africa, Guinea and Equatorial Guinea will have significant contribution in fostering aviation cooperation, according to Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO.
In an exclusive interview with ENA, Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam said Ethiopia’s engagement with African countries at the highest level will press on with a shared future to a higher level, and make the anchor to African economic integration.
Ethiopian has played a supportive role in reviving African countries’ aviation industry, he said adding that “today we are the largest airline, the largest network connecting Africa together and this has been a big challenge for Africans.”
The support of Ethiopian to African countries is evident in Togo through ASKY, Malawi, Mozambique, and Chad and manages the SIBA airline of Equatorial Guinea while discussions are underway with Zambia and Ghana.
“So we do not see these countries establishing airlines as competition we rather see it as cooperation and as enhancing, developing African aviation. And I believe we have done a very good job that is why today if travel from any part of Africa to any part of Africa and ask any person about Ethiopian airline they would tell that this an airline of Africa,” he emphasized.
Ethiopian airlines, with more than 120 international and 22 domestic destinations, have transported 12 million passengers in 2019.
President Alpha Conde requested Ethiopian to establish Guinea airlines, which now is at final stage, the CEO said and noted “this shows not only the multilateral agreement in bringing Africa together or African integration but also bilateral agreement between Ethiopia and Guinea.”
Tewolde described Equatorial Guinea as “the Kuwait of Africa” for its rich oil but establishing an airline has been a challenge, and added that it has been a year since Ethiopian has been managing it on the request of the country’s president.
South African Airways (SAA) has been placed into business rescue, which is South Africa’s bankruptcy protection process, in a last-ditch effort to save the national carrier while Ethiopian has taken the number one position as the best airlines in Africa for the third consecutive year.
Tewolde pointed out that Ethiopian is supporting South African Airways with the spirit of Pan-Africanism to come back to its glory.
“When we go back to South Africa we do not want it to be strongly propagated in the media but we are offering our help to South African Airways because unfortunately South African Airways is passing through its challenging time. We want to do it with the Pan-African spirit with squarely focused on supporting and helping South African Airways to come back to its glory,” he added.
Before Ethiopian started ASKY airline in Togo a 45 minutes travel to Nigeria used to take 7 hours through London, he said and noted “I think to any African Ethiopian airline has become an inspiration.”
“This is a huge success for the continent and we are also now helping other African countries to establish their national carrier and this is a genuine help because today we are the largest airline in Africa, the largest network connecting Africa together and this has been a big challenge for Africa,” Tewolde pointed out.
So, the recent visit of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to the three African countries will help to deepen African comprehensive cooperation, particularly in aviation industry, the CEO said.
It is to be recalled that Ethiopian has taken equity stakes in new operators in Zambia, Chad, Mozambique and Guinea while helping to manage existing carriers in Equatorial Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo.