Ethiopia Airlines favourite to set up and manage Nigeria’s new national carrier

The most profitable airline in Africa Ethiopian Airlines is the favourite to set up and manage Nigeria’s planned national carrier, its Chief Executive Tewolde Gebremariam said on Friday.

“We are among a small group with an interest in establishing a national carrier (in Nigeria)…we do not know the results (of the tender), though we are frontrunners,” Reuters quoted Gebremariam to have said on Friday.

Having conquered the African market, state-owned Ethiopia Airlines has been investing in other African airlines, as it targets a competitive advantage against rivals in other continents. The carrier has outperformed competitors on the continent South African Airways and Kenya Airways to become Africa’s largest airline by revenue and profit.

Already, the airline has secured contracts for maintenance work with two Nigeria-based carriers, Arik Air and Medview Airline. The airline was also reported in May, to have begun talks with Chad, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea to set up carriers through joint ventures, and one it would fully own in Mozambique. Ethiopian Airlines now holds a 45 percent stake in Zambian Airlines, owns 49 percent of Malawian Airlines and runs Togo-based Asky Airline. where it holds a 40 percent stake.

The carrier is also set to launch Chadian Airlines and Guinea Airlines in separate joint ventures with the Chad and Guinean governments respectively. It will own a 49 percent stake in each of the carriers.

Tewolde Gebremariam said that the company’s net profit in the 2017/18 financial year rose to 6.8 billion birr and operating revenue grew by 43 percent to 89 billion birr ($3.21bn).

In June, Ethiopia announced it would partially privatise several state-owned enterprises, including Ethiopian Airlines.