ADDIS ABABA – Nigeria is hoping to get a national carrier that can serve international purposes with the help of Ethiopian Airlines, say media reports from its capital.
Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam, was in Abuja on Friday to hold a meeting with Nigerian government officials as well as the private sector towards establishing an international carrier for the West African nation.
Following the meeting, Tewolde told reporters there that the non-existence of an indigenous airline in Nigeria that is fully involved in international operations was a big threat to the aviation sector in Africa.
“We have been discussing and exploring possibilities to establish or support a strong airline in Nigeria,” he said.
“I don’t mean that there is no strong airline in Nigeria, but we want an airline that can satisfy the demand of the domestic market, the regional market, and international market”.
The national flag carrier is in talks with officials of Ghana for a similar agreement.
“We are also in talks with the government of Ghana to establish Ghana Airways but the biggest market which is Nigeria has been a challenge, to be honest with you,” he said. “We make sure that when we start something, we start professionally and make sure that it succeeds.”
He explained that non-African carriers have the biggest share in terms of percentage volume on international routes in African countries, something he hopes changes.
Tewolde says “So, in a declining trend, there is a possibility that the market share can be zero. So, they will wipe us out. We have to make sure that we work together with all African countries to ensure that there are strong homegrown indigenous carriers. We have done this with Asky in Togo and we want to do it in Nigeria.”
The airline has revived defunct African airlines including Zambia’s, partnered with airlines in Chad, Mozambique, established hubs in Malawi and Togo, and flies to more than 60 destinations across Africa.