SAA, Egypt Air, Ethiopian to establish a consortium

Dino D'Amore
By Dino D'Amore September 30, 2010 14:34

SAA, Egypt Air, Ethiopian to establish a consortium

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Three leading African carriers, South African Airways, Egypt Air and Ethiopian Airlines are contemplating setting up a multi-national carrier that serves the central and west African countries. SAA and Egypt Air are members of Star Alliance while Ethiopian is accepted as a future member of the group as of September 29.

SAA’s CEO, Siza Mzimela, told Aviation News on Wednesday in Addis Ababa that the senior management teams of SAA, Egypt Air and Ethiopian are holding talks on the possibility of establishing a consortium multi national African carrier that would mainly offer flight services in central and west African countries. Mzimela said that the planned airline would be an intra-African carrier that would feed passengers from central and west Africa to the three major African carriers.

“Our presence lags in those regions and we hope to fill in the gab there,” says Mzimela. “We did not yet arrive at a conclusion. We did not yet set the amount of shares each airline will have. But we are discussing the possibilities that would enable us invest in a consortium airline. I believe that our discussions will bring about positive results in the coming few months. There is a general consensus among the three of us to forge some kind of partnership to invest of an African regional carrier. I hope that we will arrive at an agreement soon.”

Hussein Massoud, chairman and CEO of EgyptAir Holding CO, confirmed that the three carriers are working on the plan.

Ethiopian designate CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam, told Aviation News that the central and west African regions were under served in air transport service: “Egypt Air is strong in the North [Africa], Ethiopian serves east, partly west and central Africa. SAA has a strong presence in the south so we are discussing the means how Star Alliance members could serve those regions better. The concept is to have a regional hub in the regions and we are studying the way we [the three airlines] could jointly establish a new airline or invest on ASKY Airline,” says Gebremariam.

ASKY is a newly established private airline in Togo in which Ethiopian has a 25% stake and a five-year management contract with the airline which launched operations early this year. The Lome based airline promoted by ECO Bank, a Togolese bank, was established by the private sector in west and central African countries. The airline launched with two leased B737-800s with a primary objective of serving the west and central Africa. Ethiopian uses Togo as a West African hub.

Ethiopian outgoing CEO, Girma Wake, told Aviation News that both SAA and Egypt Air have shown a keen interest to invest on ASKY in partnership with Ethiopian. “They want us (the management of Ethiopian) to lead the airline,” Wake said.

The plan seems optional to either invest on ASKY or to establish a new airline, an industry analyst told Aviation News.

Dino D'Amore
By Dino D'Amore September 30, 2010 14:34
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