Friday, 1 January 2016

Open skies still up in the air

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"The African Union is as old as the European Union. The European Union has achieved a lot, and the African Union has not achieved as much." So said Tewolde GebreMariam, chief executive of Ethiopian Airlines, during the annual meeting of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) in Congo Brazzaville in November.

GebreMariam has earned the right to pass judgement. Since taking the reins at Ethiopia's flag-carrier in 2011, he has continued and expanded the ambitious growth strategy designed by Girma Wake, his illustrious predecessor, who laid the groundwork for Addis Ababa to become the continent's pre-eminent aviation hub. Today, the only thing growing faster than Ethiopian Airlines' fleet is its bottom line – net profits have quadrupled over the past four years.

Elsewhere on the continent, however, aviation success stories are few and far between. The African Union must accept some of the blame...