The Ethiopian government is on the verge of merging Ethiopian Airlines, the national flag carrier, and Ethiopian Airports Enterprise (EAE), the sole government body responsible for the construction and administration of airports in Ethiopia.
Sources told The Reporter that since the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise could not cope with the fast growth of the national airline it has been proposed by the airline that Ethiopian and the Enterprise be under the same management. Sources said executives of Ethiopian Airlines have been complaining about the poor airport infrastructure and airport service that affects the operations of the airline. “The executive management of the airline proposed the merger and they have got a positive response from the government,” sources said. According to sources, the draft law will soon be submitted to the Council of Ministers for endorsement.
CEO of EAE, Tewodros Dawit, told The Reporter that he is not informed of such a decision by the government. “We did not receive any relevant official letter on the issue,” Tewodros said.
Communications Affairs Office head Wodim Teklu said that the enterprise is not aware of such measures. However, he said, the enterprise is working on a new logo for the enterprise. “We will soon introduce a new company logo,” Wondim said.
However, sources disclosed that a study to merge the airline and the EAE has already been conducted. “Based on the study the Council of Ministers will soon make a decision,” they said.
Officials of EAE, who declined to be named, said that they could not satisfy the fast growing airline’s demand not because they are inefficient. “We have to follow strict government procurement procedures to buy and install machineries and equipment that the airline demands. It takes time to go through all the bureaucratic procurement procedures to buy a certain equipment,” they said.
The Reporter emailed questions regarding the proposed merger to Ethiopian Airlines but did not receive a reply until press time.
Other airlines expressed fear over the merger of Ethiopian Airlines and EAE. “The airport service provider and the operator should not be one entity. They should not be run under one management because there will be a clear conflict of interest,” a manager of a foreign carrier told The Reporter.
Members of the general aviation, too, expressed their concern. An owner of a private airline that operates non-scheduled flight told The Reporter that Ethiopian Airlines as a national carrier gets a preferential treatment at all the airports in Ethiopia. “If it is going to manage the airports it will eliminate us,” he said.
The Ethiopian Airports Enterprise spinned off the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority in 2003. The enterprise is administering 23 airports, out of which four are international. The EAE is undertaking the expansion of the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport passenger terminal and the construction of six airports in the regional states. The enterprise has more than 1,600 employees who at the moment are uncertain about their fate if the said merger materialized.
By Kaleyesus Bekele