By Victor Shalton
Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam Retires
Last wekk, Ethiopian Airlines confirmed that CEO Tewolde GebreMariam has taken early retirement after more than a decade at the helm.
Tewolde Gebremariam through a text message to Reuters said last Wednesday he had resigned from his position which he held for 11 years, to focus on his medical treatment. He has been receiving medical treatment in the U.S for the past six months.
GebreMariam became the CEO of Ethiopian in January 2011 at a time when the airline operated around 33 aircraft. Over the past decade, its fleet has increased to 120 aircraft — with a further 36 on order.
His retirement as the CEO of the largest African airline is the latest in a leadership change at the continent’s largest carrier, and the new executives are tasked with driving the airline’s recovery post-Covid pandemic.
Under GebreMariam’s leadership, the airline group has grown by fourfold in all measurements and built more than USD 700 million worth of vital infrastructures like Africa’s biggest hotel, Cargo terminal, MRO hangars and shops, Aviation Academy and Full Flight Simulators.
His career also included a win for a number of accolades including “African CEO of the Year” and “Best African Business Leader.” GebreMariam has been at the airline for 37 years.
Airline’s New CEO
Meanwhile, Mesfin Tasew Bekele has been named as his replacement. He has 38 years of experience in airline management and operations. He has been the CEO of Togo-based ASKY Airlines – a private multinational passenger airline serving west and central Africa where Ethiopian Airlines is a 40% shareholder since 2021.
Prior to that, Bekele also served as Ethiopian’s CCO from 2010 until leaving for ASKY.
Speaking on his appointment, Mesfin Tassew said, “I am honored and humbled to be appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines Group which I have been serving for nearly four decades in various positions. My new role gives me the opportunity to carry on with the fast and profitable growth of our beloved airline and take it to the next level. I call on all my colleagues at Ethiopian to join hands and forge ahead for further success.”
Looking at the airline’s network growth during GebreMariam’s time in charge, OAG Schedules Analyser data shows that capacity increased from 8.3 million seats in 2012 to 21.5 million in 2019.
This then dropped to 11.8 million due to the coronavirus-induced travel slow down in 2020 and rebounded to 14.8 million last year. Operational figures from March 2022 show that the carrier is operating about 1.3 million monthly seats — about 77% of the total offered in March 2019 Pre-pandemic.
In terms of destinations, Ethiopian is currently flying to 114 destinations around the world from its hub in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.