By Kaleyesus Bekele – AIN
The government of Ghana has concluded a strategic partnership agreement with Africa’s largest airline, Ethiopian Airlines, to establish a new pan-African carrier in Accra, Ghana. The government of Ghana and the private sector would hold a majority stake of 51 percent in the proposed airline while Ethiopian would hold the balance.
Ghanaian Aviation Minister Joseph Kofi Adda and Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde Gebremariam signed the strategic partnership agreement on Wednesday at the headquarters of Ethiopian Airlines in Addis Ababa.
Ghana has gone without a national airline since the demise of Ghana Airways and Ghana International Airlines in the early 2000s. Gebremariam told AIN that the proposed national airline would operate domestic, regional, and international flights. “It is still at an initial stage and we don’t have any timeline to start operation,” he noted.
However, a source close to the project told AIN that the airline would launch operations by end of this year or early 2020. “Investment firms from other West African countries may invest in the new venture,” he said. “Ethiopian and the government of Ghana will together look for potential investors.”
Adda said that the Ghanaian government would limit its participation to taking a relatively minor financial stake in the airline. “What we are looking at is not more than a ten-percent share, and that is the extent to which government will be involved,” he explained. “We will have one or two representatives on the board, but the government will not interfere in operations of the new company in terms of policy, strategy, and operations.”
According to Gebremariam, African airlines should collaborate to withstand intense competition from powerful international carriers. Non-African airlines now carry 80 percent of the passenger traffic between Africa and the rest of world. “In the 1990s African airlines had a 40 percent market share. This has shrunk to 20 percent over the years,” he said. “This has to change. It has to be at least fifty-fifty.
Unless we Africans cooperate and change the diminishing market share of African airlines there will not be any homegrown airlines after ten years.
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