Ethiopian Airlines To Help Launch New National Airline For Zambia

While Ethiopian is busy beating every other airline in Africa, the carrier is set to help launch a new national airline for Zambia.

Ethiopian is Africa’s leading airline, flying B787 aircraft to the likes of London, Dublin, and Madrid. The flag carrier of Ethiopia, the airline was founded in 1945. It is currently headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city. The airline has a total fleet size of over 100, with some of the newest aircraft available, such as the B737-MAX and the Airbus A350.

Ethiopian B787
Ethiopian has 22 B787 aircraft in service, with a further 5 on order. Image: Boeing

What’s Happening in Zambia?

Ethiopian Airlines has signed a deal with the Zambian Government to launch a national airline for Zambia. Zambia Airways, as the carrier is to be known, will be owned 55% by the Zambian government, and 45% by Ethiopian. The deal is reportedly worth US$30m. By 2028 the airline aims to operate a fleet of 12 aircraft carrying 1.9 million passengers.

The initial investment as we start up the national carrier will be $30 million. Obviously, as we operate the airline, we will facilitate the financing necessary to support its growth.

The airline aims to begin operations on January 1st 2019. The airline will start by offering domestic and regional routes. In the “near future” the airline will expand to offer flights further afield to destinations such as Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.

Zambia Airways
Zambia Airways ceased operations in 1995 following financial difficulties. Photo: Ken Felding

Zambia Airways History

This is not the first time Zambia Airways has taken to the sky. Zambia Airways originally commenced operations in 1964. However, following a period of financial difficulties, the airline ceased operations in 1995. Between 1998 and 2009 a different airline, Mines Air Services Limited, became the nations flag carrier under the name Zambian Airways. While neither of the airlines are related, both ceased operations due to financial problems. The latter owed a debt of US$29m, citing rising fuel costs as the reason for suspending operations.

Ethiopian’s Long Term Plan

Ethiopian knows what it is doing in the African aviation market, and has plans to expand further. Along with Zambia Airways, the airline is also managing Malawi Airlines. In addition, it is in talks with Chad, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea to set up national airlines. Ethiopian also wanted to create an airline in Mozambique that it would fully own.

Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s leading airline. The airline has a fleet of over 100 aircraft. Photo: BriYYZ

Similar to how IAG owns a number of European carriers, Ethiopian clearly wants to own a number of African carriers. The airline has come a long way in recent years following mentorship from fellow Star Alliance airline Lufthansa. In addition to its current fleet of 108, the airline has a further 65 aircraft on order to serve even more destinations all around the globe.

The aviation industry is continuing to grow with more airlines launching each week. Nigeria is currently also trying to relaunch their flag carrier. It will be interesting to see how the African aviation industry looks in 5 years time.