Africa: Why Nigeria needs national carrier – Ethiopian Airlines MD

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The managing director of International Services of Ethiopian Airlines, Mr. Esayas WoldeMariam Hailu, has outlined reasons why Nigeria needs a national carrier.

WoldeMariam Hailu stated that Nigeria as the largest African population and also the largest economy in Africa, with very high mobility both domestically and overseas needs a national carrier.

Speaking in an interview with Nigeria Aviation Journalists at the Airline’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Tuesday, June 11, WoldeMariam Hailu stated that the airline has been participating in Nigeria’s bid to float a national carrier alongside some other foreign airlines.

Commenting on whether there is any partnership plan between Ethiopia Airlines and federal government of Nigeria on the proposed Nigeria Air, the Ethiopian Airlines MD stated that there is nothing on hand so far.

While wishing the country success in their endeavour to float a national carrier, WoldeMariam Hailu said Ethiopian Airlines is ready and willing to give the country all the support it may require from them if requested.

As indicated in the past, Ethiopian is ready to provide its support and expertise for the successful establishment of the national carrier, WoldeMariam Hailu said.

He noted that Ethiopian Airlines would welcome any partnership that may arise from Nigeria in this area, adding that the Airline is in expectation of that.

In his word: “There have been attempts to float a national carrier by partnering some foreign airlines by the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Ethiopian Airlines has been participating on that. So far we have not been picked, but we are able, capable and ready, whenever the vacancy is created, we are ready to come and cooperate on that”.

He continued that: “Nigeria has been a very good host and by the share volume of the population which is the demographic dividend, the most precious resource which is the human resource, Nigeria been the largest African population and also the largest economy, with very high mobility both domestically and overseas, so for that Nigeria really requires a national carrier, so we wish them all the successes.”

On the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), the Ethiopian Airlines boss explained that SAATM is a very good solution for Africa airlines, stressing that it is now left for Africa to put its heads together and organise their air transport and make it thrive.

“SAATM is the best thing that can ever happen to Africa because air transport connectivity is the fuel for economy and cultural exchange, people going and coming create regional and cultural tourism as well as people, goods and economic transactions,”WoldeMariam Hailu stated.


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  • Nigeria does NOT need a ‘national air carrier’. The Ethiopian Airlines ‘MD’ supports the concept because his company sees the Nigeria market – and the inept Nigeria government – in the same way a lion sees a gazelle…an ‘all-you-can-eat’ buffet.

    Ethiopian Airlines is a good company…possibly a great company – but they, too, are government owned / subsidized. Unlike other government ‘owned’ airlines across Africa – which have all failed – Ethiopian has recognized the destructive influence of government and have minimized it. The government of Ethiopia has even acknowledged that ‘government’ involvement in an airline is deleterious.

    My argument against a national carrier in Nigeria is NOT against the AIRLINE – it is against a ‘government owned’ airline. Government owned = financial failure…every time it’s been done.

    There is massive amounts of private sector money in Nigeria with which to create a privately owned airline. There is, simply, not enough managerial and operational talent, in Nigeria, to run a PROFITABLE airline. No one can argue against that claim. Can it be done? Certainly…but not without a dramatic change in conceptual attitudes and a lot of help from people – outside of Nigeria – to ‘build the model’.

    What will this new ‘national carrier’ do differently – than all the previous efforts. What financial and operational ‘plan’ will the new carrier use?

    Every airline – in the history of the country – has failed financially. Losing private investor money is a risk people take with their OWN money. Losing ‘government’ money is mismanagement of TAXPAYER money.

    Ethiopian Airlines is simply benefitting from a new income stream – being created by the Nigeria government. Ethiopian KNOWS how to make money and manage an airline – Nigeria only knows how to LOSE money and MISMANAGE an airline.

    When this deal fails – Ethiopian walks away with their profits – and Nigeria will add the name of another failed airline – to a list the people of Nigeria do not deserve.

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