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Thursday airline updates: Ethiopian considering rescue of smaller African airlines

written by Dylan Nicholson | May 7, 2020

An Ethiopian 787. (Boeing)

Ethiopian Airlines, the largest airline in Africa, has stated it is ready to rescue other airlines within the continent including the failing South African Airways. This comes despite Ethiopian having its own difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief executive Tewolde GebreMariam has also stated he wants to rescue Air Mauritius, which has gone into administration.

Bloomberg has reported that talks are already underway with the government of Mauritius regarding the revival of its flag-carrying airline. Air Mauritius entered administration last month as it became yet another casualty of the travel industry freefall.

“The Mauritian government is thinking of restarting that business with Ethiopian Airlines. We are at the initial point of the discussion to see what kind of partnership or joint venture it will be,” GabreMariam stated to Bloomberg.

Bloomberg also reports that GebreMariam would be open to a dialogue regarding South Africa’s now bankrupt national carrier South African Airways. Ethiopian Airlines previously held discussions with the South African government regarding its national carrier back in January. Now, GebreMariam said it would be willing to participate in the revival of the airline

“We think we can approach them and restart the discussion with the new airline,” he told Bloomberg.

It has been confirmed  new national carrier will be built out of the remains of SAA, however the shape of this airline is yet to come to fruition.


While this is going on, Ethiopian still faces its own struggles as it furloughs staff, cuts capacity and destinations, and switches to cargo operations.

In other airline news:

  • Emirates CEO Tim Clark has said that the Airbus A380 is over. The comments came from the boss of the world’s largest Airbus A380 customer as the industry experiences its worst crisis in history. The Airbus model has been hardest hit as almost every carrier using them has grounded them indefinitely.
  • Turkish Airlines is planning to bring its commercial traffic back to the skies, as the airline has drafted a flight plan for the coming three months. It will begin with a 60 per cent capacity to domestic destinations and international flights to 22 destinations in 19 countries in June. The Istanbul-based airline will then increase operations gradually over the following two months, slowly re-establishing its extensive network.
  • Air Canada will become the first airline in the Americas to require passengers to undertake temperature checks. From 15 May, all passengers will have an infra-red test before they can board a flight. This comes as part of wider changes being introduced to keep passengers and crew safe, as all airlines look at ways to increase flying safely.
  • South Africa’s government does not want South African Airways (SAA) to be liquidated. The state-owned carrier has been heading towards a collapse amid the global health crisis. However, today’s news means that there could be a twist of fate for the airline.
  • The Argentinian government announced the fusion of state carriers Aerolíneas Argentinas and Austral. Previously, both airlines belonged to the same group, and their fusion could be a done deal by the end of the year.
  • Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes shared that its aircraft were almost as full last month as they were a year ago. Despite the COVID-19 outbreak rocking the aviation industry, the Brazilian outfit’s planes were 80 per cent occupied on average during April, compared with 81 per cent in the same month last year.


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