Ethiopian Airlines and Air Zimbabwe have agreed on a lucrative partnership deal set to strengthen their working relations in the aviation industry.
The Africa’s biggest airline, tabled an enticing offer to Zimbabwe’s national carrier that includes bringing planes, training pilots and also turning Zimbabwe into an aircraft maintenance hub in the South African Development Community (SADC), according to ZBC news.
According to Ethiopian Airlines Group Chief Executive Officer Mr Tewolde Gebremarian hosted President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Addis Ababa where they signed the agreement.
The Zimbabwean Head of State was in Ethiopia for the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union.
The Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet – Presidential Communications Mr George Charamba, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and permanent representative to the AU Ambassador Albert Chimbindi and other senior government officials were part of the meeting between President Mnangagwa and Mr Gebremarian who witnessed the signing of the lucrative business deal.
Commenting on the partnership, Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Retired Lieutenant General Dr Sibusiso Moyo, said, “[Ethiopian Airlines is] prepared to support the organisation for maintenance so that Zimbabwe becomes a hub of maintenance of aircraft just like Addis is. They would do that together with maintenance people of Air Zimbabwe and so that we can get a clear partnership which would then fly the Air Zimbabwe routes in code, sharing with Air Zimbabwe colours and they will fly all over the world using that particular agreement.”
The Ethiopian operates flights to Harare connecting Zimbabwe’s capital to London. Other airlines that operate routes to the capital include Kenya Airways, RwandAir and Virgin Atlantic.
CEO Tewolde and President Mnangagwa discussed the $18 million hanging in its Zimbabwean account.
“They touched on that and that it is worth about $18 million which is stuck in Zimbabwe but that was not so much of an issue because they believe that if they establish a partnership with Air Zimbabwe they will be able to get that money without any problems and in a very short space of time. His Excellency has also promised that my counterpart the Minister of Finance is going to take a serious position in terms of reducing that debt,” added Minister Moyo.
Air Zimbabwe’s has suffered setbacks in its operations with the government pushing efforts to revive the air carrier. The partnership deal should better the operations of the airlines and make it competitive in the Southern African market.