Ethiopian Airlines CEO Clarifies Nigerian National Carrier Partnership Amid Legal Hurdles


Mesfin Tasew, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, recently addressed concerns surrounding the airline’s involvement in the establishment of Nigeria Air, the proposed national carrier. Tasew clarified that Ethiopian Airlines had not initially planned to set up an airline in Nigeria but was invited by the Nigerian Federal Government to collaborate on the creation of a national carrier.

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In a discussion with a select group of Nigerian journalists in Addis Ababa, Tasew explained that the reputation of Ethiopian Airlines led to the invitation. Initially hesitant due to its existing engagements, the airline ultimately agreed, citing its long-standing relationship with Nigeria as a key factor.

However, during the process of determining the shareholding structure, Ethiopian Airlines received word that some Nigerian companies and airlines were taking legal action to halt the establishment of Nigeria Air, alleging defamation against Ethiopian Airlines and the Federal Government. This legal challenge prompted Ethiopian Airlines to consider withdrawing from the project. Nevertheless, the Nigerian government insisted that the process continue, recognizing the importance of establishing a national carrier in Africa’s most populous nation.

As of now, Ethiopian Airlines has not made a final decision regarding the continuation of the Nigeria Air project. The Federal Government has requested that they proceed with the groundwork, contingent on the court order being vacated and addressing specific concerns. It’s important to note that Ethiopian Airlines has not canceled the project, leaving the door open for future collaboration.

Tasew emphasized that Nigeria Air was already in the process of being established before Ethiopian Airlines was brought in as a partner. He also highlighted the potential benefits for Nigerians, emphasizing the Nigerian government’s aim to address the lack of reliable airlines in both domestic and international markets. High fares charged by foreign airlines on Nigerian routes have been a concern, and the government seeks to provide a strong and dependable airline to serve the country’s needs.

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