The Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde Gebremariam, said his company is the frontrunner to set up and manage Nigeria’s new national carrier, Nigeria Air.
Gebremariam made this known on Friday at a news conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city.
He said his airline belongs to a small group of investors interested in establishing the national carrier.
“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,” Gebremariam told Reuters at the event.
Recall that the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had, last month, unveiled the new national at the Farnborough International Public Airshow in London, United Kingdom.
“It is a business, not a social service. Government will not be involved in running it or deciding who runs it. The investors will have full responsibility for this
“Though, you need that initial government financial to make it take off, but what is important is that the national carrier will be entirely private sector controlled.
“There will be zero government interference. But if that happens, it invalidates the certificate (Outline Business Case Certificate of Compliance for the establishment of the airline) and the entire process,” he said.
In July, Gebremariam had disclosed that the Ethiopian Airlines was interested in the Nigerian project.
Ethiopian Airlines, the only consistently profitable carrier in Africa, serves about 70 global cities and 60 across Africa from its hub in Addis Ababa with a fleet of over 100 aircraft.
The air company already owns stakes in carriers in Malawi and Togo and is seeking to establish holdings in Zambia, Chad, Mozambique, Guinea and Eritrea while helping to manage existing operators in Equatorial Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Presently, the airline is ranked the largest carrier in African continent by revenue and profit, according to the International Air Transport Association.