ADDIS ABABA —
Ethiopian Airlines says it has finalized an agreement with Zambia to re-launch the southern African country's national carrier.
The partnership with Zambia comes as Ethiopian Airlines is opening new routes and hubs and is acquiring new aircraft.
In a statement Tuesday, the airline said it will have a 45 percent stake in the Zambian carrier and it aims to make the Zambian capital, Lusaka, its newest aviation hub. The remaining 55 percent will be acquired by the Zambian government which is aiming to revive the country's aviation sector after Zambia Airways ceased operations on January 2009.
"The launching of Zambia Airways will enable the traveling public in Zambia and the Southern African region to enjoy greater connectivity options," said Ethiopian Airlines CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam. "It is only through partnerships among African carriers that the aviation industry of the continent will be able to get its fair share of the African market, currently heavily skewed in favor of non-African airlines."
Gebremariam told The Associated Press earlier this month his company is also exploring opportunities in other African countries including Mozambique, Djibouti and Congo.
Ethiopian Airlines currently operates from hubs in Lomé, Togo with ASKY Airlines and in Lilongwe, Malawi. Its main hub is in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
Ethiopian Airlines currently flies to more than 100 destinations. Airline officials say that recent currency devaluations in some African countries and a subsequent rise in jet fuel prices could hamper its profits.