Ethiopian Airlines chief executive officer Tewolde Gebremariam has said he sees his airline’s latest venture, Malawian Airlines, operating up to10 aircraft by 2018.
Speaking recently to Roots Online, Gebremariam said he sees the distinct possibility of the airline operating wide-bodies as well in the near future.
A wide-body aircraft is a large airliner with two passenger aisles, also known as twin-aisle aircraft.
Last year, the Malawi Government, through the Public Private Partnership Commission (PPP), placed the struggling Air Malawi on liquidation and identified Ethiopian Airlines as a strategic equity partner to re-capitalise the new airline called Malawian Airlines.
Under the partnership, the Government of Malawi, Ethiopian Airlines and Malawian institutional and individual investors are sharing 20 percent, 49 percent and 31 percent, respectively.
According to Gebremariam, Malawian Airlines is scheduled to launch flights out of Blantyre and Lilongwe on January 1 2014.
He said the flights from Blantyre and Lilongwe will be launched on January 1 using a B737-800 and a Dash 8-400 to serve Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
The Ethiopian Airlines boss also explained that the acquisition of 49 percent stake in the venture will give Ethiopia’s national carrier a third hub in Africa.
Currently, Africa’s demand for air travel has grown rapidly at a much faster pace than the global average.
As such, aviation analysts contend that the growing demand and the uneven competition from foreign carriers, which currently dominate the African market, cannot be overcome by one single African airline.
Minister of Transport Sidik Mia said in Lilongwe during a fifth joint transport sector review meet that his ministry has finalised the process of restructuring Air Malawi with the establishment of Malawian Airlines.
Mia said the board for the new airline has been established and recruitment of key staff is well underway.
According to the minister government is now in the certification process with support from the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
Once the new airline starts flying, Mia said government expects the passenger numbers to improve in the country.