Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam has outlined plans to provide operational support to South African Airways. In an interview with Bloomberg and a tweet from the official Ethiopian Airlines account, the CEO outlined that the support will include the provision of pilots, planes, leadership, and maintenance.
SAA has been in deep financial trouble since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, including debt, ticket refunds, and unpaid severance packages for former workers. Experts estimate the company needs at least a 600 million USD cash injection to get its planes back in the skies.
While Ethiopian Airlines’ offer does not include any financial assistance, as Tewolde made crystal clear, the operational assistance is still vital to the continued operation of any transport service provider.
These plans have stalled for several months though and do not seem to be heading towards operability if forward-looking measures are not taken, noted the CEO of Ethiopian. He says that talks with the South African government have stalled over the extent to which Ethiopian is going to provide assistance, in exchange for partnership rights.
While the South African government seems intent on receiving some form of financial assistance in order to take on Ethiopian as a fully-fledged partner, the African giant maintains that operational and managerial assistance are sufficient, especially considering the financially unenviable position South African Airways is currently in.