The CEO of Ethiopian Airlines Group has called on airlines in Africa to work together and for governments on the continent to support carriers more to help them overcome challenges and capitalise on growth opportunities.
Speaking at Aviation Africa in Addis Ababa this week, Tewolde GebreMariam said the main challenge faced by airlines in Africa is the attitude” to aviation by African governments.
“We need support from governments, taxes need to be reduced and infrastructure needs to improve,” he said.
“We depend on aviation to connect ourselves and the world. For trade, business investment and tourism, other modes of transport cannot serve us well, African governments have to support aviation.
“African airlines also need to cooperate with each other as there is a lack of it right now. We currently only command 20% of the global market share, and that is painful. This means we don’t have the mass, so it is time for us to cooperate with each other.”
GebreMariam also touched on the current coronavirus challenge, which is a trending theme at the conference, discussing what it means to the aviation industry.
“The coronavirus is a huge challenge,” GebreMariam said.
“We are seeing a 20% decline in demand; this is a big shock. However, we are used to these kinds of shocks and we have the experience to overcome this.
“For us this is a temporary problem, we have faced disease, natural disasters, and sudden spikes in oil prices, and we have the capabilities and skill to recover.”
Lack of human resources is also an ongoing challenge and Ethiopian Airlines continues to invest in training.
GebreMariam added: “We currently have 1,500 students in our training academy, but this is only 50% of our capacity, so we are inviting more students to join to obtain the important skills that cover the aviation industry.”