Ethiopian Airlines, which is Africa’s most profitable carrier, is negotiating with the Nigerian government to take over management of the recently bankrupted Arik Air, a senior Addis Ababa official has confirmed today.
“Following the bid opened by the Nigerian government, we are negotiating to secure management contract of Arik Air,” Esayas Weldemariam, director of International Service at Ethiopian Airlines Group said this morning.
If successful, the deal would see Ethiopia’s national carrier expand its presence in western Africa.
It already has codeshare arrangements with Lome-based Asky Airlines that allow the carrier to give convenient connections to West African travellers.
“Based on the terms and conditions set by the government of Nigeria, Ethiopian Airlines has tabled its offer to take over the management of Arik Air…We are bidding with other airlines, if we agree on the negotiations we are ready to go and take over the management,” he said.
Reports show that Arik Air, which is the region’s largest private airline by passenger numbers, has been serving as Nigeria’s de-facto national airline.
Following failure to service its debts and pay employees’ salaries, the government of Nigeria took over Arik Air in February.
Ethiopian Airlines, which began operations in 1946, is the largest airline in Africa by revenue according to the International Air Transport Association [IATA].
Currently, it has a total of 92 aircrafts flying to 104 international 19 local destinations.