Ethiopian Airlines never had plans to set up in Nigeria – Group CEO - BUSINESSDAY
OCTOBER 27, 2023
BY Ifeoma Okeke-Korieocha
Mesfin Tasew, the group chief executive officer of Ethiopian Airlines, has said that the East African carrier never had any plan to set up an airline in Nigeria but was invited by the Federal Government to partner with it to establish a national carrier – Nigeria Air.
Tasew, who spoke to select journalists from Nigeria in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, disclosed that because of the pedigree of Ethiopian Airlines, it was invited by the Nigerian government to help it set up a national carrier in a partnership arrangement and because of the airline’s engagements, it at first resisted the invitation but later agreed due to long relationship it has with Nigeria.
But while Ethiopian Airlines and the Nigerian government were preparing the shareholding, it received a message that some companies and airlines in Nigeria were defaming Ethiopian Airlines and the Federal Government, and had gone to court and obtained a court order to stop the establishment of Nigeria Air. This prompted Ethiopian Airlines to want to withdraw, but the Nigerian government insisted that it should continue the process of establishing the national carrier for the most populous nation in Africa.
The Ethiopian Airlines group CEO further said that until now, the airline has not decided whether to continue the process to establish Nigeria Air but the Federal Government said it should continue with the groundwork until the court vacated the order and some concerns addressed. He noted, however, that the airline was not cancelling the project.
Tasew emphasised that Nigeria Air was already established before Ethiopian Airlines was invited to partner with it. He also noted that Nigerians would benefit hugely from the national carrier if eventually established because the Nigeria government said that the country did not have dependable airlines in the domestic and international market.
This, he said, has led to foreign airlines charging high fares on the Nigerian route and exploiting Nigerian travellers; so, the government wanted strong, dependable airline with capacity.