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Ethiopian, Zambia to jointly establish national airline in Lusaka

Ethiopian, Zambia to jointly establish national airline in Lusaka

  • National flag carrier to invest in Air Djibouti

Africa’s fastest growing airline, Ethiopian Airlines Group, is in final talks with the Government of Zambia to jointly establish a new national airline in Zambia that would be based in Lusaka and serve the Southern African market.  

Since the demise of Zambia Airways in 2009, the country, which is known for its copper mines, does not have a national airline. Ethiopian has a daily flight to Lusaka.

In an exclusive interview with The Reporter Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said that Ethiopian Airlines and the Zambian government are about to sign an agreement to establish a new airline in Lusaka, Zambia.  “We are in the final stage to sign shareholder contract,” Tewolde said.

According to Tewolde, the planned national airline would serve the Southern African market from its hub in Lusaka. Zambian Airways ceased flying on January 12, 2009. Zambian Airways was a scheduled airline based in Lusaka operating an extensive domestic route network within Zambia as well as international flights to South Africa, Tanzania and DR Congo.

Tewolde said that Ethiopian is also in the process to be registered as a domestic airline in Mozambique. The Mozambican government has invited international carriers to establish a domestic and international airline that would be based in Mozambique. In response to that, Ethiopian has started registration process to serve as a domestic airline in the country known for its vast gas discoveries in recent years.

In a related news, Ethiopian Airlines has started negotiations with the Government of Djibouti to partner with Air Djibouti. Ethiopian has shown a keen interest to invest in Air Djibouti.  

Tewolde told The Reporter that the executive management of Ethiopian Airlines group has started negotiation with Air Djibouti. According to Tewolde, of late, the socio economic development in Djibouti is very encouraging.

“China for the first time has established a military base in neighboring Djibouti. The major political powers have big military vessels in Djibouti. The country is expanding its seaport and airport. So it can serve as the Dubai of Africa if we do the right thing together,” the CEO said.

Tewolde said his management made several discussions with chairman of Air Djibouti and the port. “We are going to establish a joint venture on Air Djibouti.”

Air Djibouti – a fully state-owned airline – was out of operation for many years but the government of Djibouti partially relaunched it in 2015 as a cargo airline. After leasing a Boeing B737-400 passenger airplane from a UK-based company, Cardiff Aviation, the small airline commenced scheduled passenger flights in early 2017.

The tiny Red Sea state’s government has outlined a long-term development plan dubbed Vision 2035 designed to develop Djibouti as a regional hub for commercial and logistics services. To support this, two new airports are being built at a total cost of 600 million dollars capable of handling over 1.5 million passengers annually.