ADDIS ABEBA – Ethiopian Airlines is willing to provide airplanes, pilots and maintenance services to beleaguered rival South African Airways (SAA) as part of a joint venture with the government.
Africa’s biggest airline is offering operational assistance, Ethiopian airlines group CEO Tewolde Gebremariam told Bloomberg news.
The carrier is not interested in helping with debt repayments or the cost of reducing the workforce, he said.
“We don’t want to deal with the legacy issues — the debt, labor claims and so on because that is very difficult for us not only in terms of financial outlay but also in terms of managing the restructuring,” the CEO said.
“We want to make it very easy for them to start the airline by providing airplanes, by providing expertise, pilots, technicians, leadership.”
Ethiopian could provide more modern Airbus SE 350s and Boeing 787s, he said, in comparison with SAA’s Airbus 340 airplanes.
South African government is in need of R10.5bn to resuscitate the airline that’s been in bankruptcy protection since December.
The cash is needed in part for ticket refunds and severance packages for almost 4,000 workers who agreed to leave as part of a rescue plan put together by administrators and backed by labor groups.
SA’s department of public enterprises has said that it is looking at several offers from private investors, but nothing concrete has materialized.
Ethiopian was among the parties holding talks, according to media report last month.
Featured Image: Ethiopia Airlines Group CEO Tewolde Gebremariam [Photo File]