Ethiopian Airlines is negotiating with the Nigerian government to take over the bankrupt Arik Air, a senior official confirmed in Addis Ababa.
The Director of International Service at the Ethiopian Airlines Group, Mr Esayas Weldemariam, Wednesday said they were expanding their presence in West Africa.
“Following the bid opened by the Nigerian government, we are negotiating to secure management contract of Arik Air,” Mr Esayas said, responding to the rumours about the impending deal.
“Based on the terms and conditions set by the Government of Nigeria, Ethiopian Airlines has submitted its offer to take over the management of Arik Air… We are bidding with other airlines, if we agree on the negotiations, we are ready to go and take over the management,” he said.
Arik Air, which is one of the largest private airlines in Nigeria, has been serving as the de-facto national carrier for the most populous state in Africa.
Following the failure to service its debts and pay employees’ salaries, Arik Air was last February taken over by the government.
Ethiopian Airlines also manages Asky Airlines in Lome, in a joint ownership with the Togo government, and the Malawian Airlines, also jointly with the government.
The Addis Ababa flag carrier, which began operations in April 1946, has won several accolades in the recent past including African Airline of the Year in 2015 and 2016 by the African Aviation and in 2014 ranked the largest in Africa in revenue by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Ethiopian Airlines Group, which has several related business wings, envisages becoming a $10 billion revenue generating company by 2030, with a total of 140 aircraft, according to Mr Esayas.
It currently has a fleet of 92 aircraft, flying to 104 international 19 local destinations.
The airline reported a 70 per cent jump in full year 2016 net profit to $265 million boosted by an 18 per cent increase in passenger numbers over the period.