Ethiopian Airlines moves to help Nigeria with new national carrier

Ethiopian Airlines moves to help Nigeria with new national carrier

The federal government, through the help of the Qatar Air and Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise, the biggest airline in the African continent, are making moves to get a new national carrier; the plans were announced by Tewolde GebreMariam, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ethiopian aviation firm.

Africa’s biggest airline, Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise, has said that it is deliberating with the federal government of Nigeria for a new national carrier.

Tewolde GebreMariam, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise, was scheduled to hold talks with Hadi Sirika, the minister of state for Aviation, concerning the proposal on Tuesday, July 16, at the Farnborough air show in England, Punch reports.

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The presidency had said that a new airline would begin operations in 2018 with its maiden name to be announced at the fair.

The Ethiopian government on Tuesday, July 17, announced its intention and moves for the company to buy a 20 per cent stake in Eritrea Airlines as part of a new peace deal, with flights between the nearby countries commencing on Wednesday, July 18.

Speaking in London, Tewolde said that he expected to face competition over the Nigerian project from Qatar Airways, which has stakes in carriers, including British Airways owner, IAG SA, and Latam Airlines Group SA, the biggest South American operator. Qatar CEO, Akbar Al Baker, in London for the same Skytrax World Airline Awards event, told Bloomberg separately that was not the case.

The federal government had said that its planned national carrier would be unveiled on Wednesday, July 18. The airline will be run as a public-private partnership and should become profitable in three years, according to the government.

Sirika said that he had held talks on sourcing jets from Airbus SE and planned to meet with Boeing Co. and other suppliers.

Former flag-carrier, Nigeria Airways, collapsed in 2003, with successor Air Nigeria, founded as a joint venture with Richard Branson’s V*rgin Group, folding in 2012. Private operator, Arik Air, was taken over by Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria last year, leading to long-haul flights to be suspended.

Ethiopian Air was separately working on a repeat order for the Boeing 787, Tewolde said, with a purchase possible in 2018. The deal could be for the 787-9 variant and would likely double the size of the existing fleet.

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The carrier is also looking at the Airbus A350-1000 and seeking to evaluate whether the model will perform sufficiently well out of Addis Ababa, which combines a hot climate with an altitude of close to 8,000 feet, making it a testing location for aircraft. It already operates the smaller A350-900 plane.

Meanwhile, reported that the chairman of Nigerian Airways’ branch of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP), Sam Ezene, said no fewer than 900 pensioners of the defunct Nigerian Airways had died while waiting for payment of their severance package.

Ezene who disclosed this lamented that one other Airways pensioner died in the morning of February 6, before the commencement of the pensioners’ recent protest against their accrued unpaid pension in Lagos.

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