The managing director of International Services of Ethiopian Airlines, Mr. Esayas WoldeMariam Hailu, has advised African governments to stop meddling in the day to day running of airlines, especially the national carriers, to ensure their survival.
Speaking during a recent interview with Nigerian Aviation Journalists at the Airline’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Tuesday, June 11, Esayas Hailu woldemariam noted that the advice has become necessary because the governments are the ones establishing national carriers.
Esayas Hailu woldemariam said the African governments should not meddle in procurement, aircraft purchases, employment of people, delaying the flights to lift the VIP’s, taking different roots or whatever.
He cited the example of Ethiopian Airlines that is 100 percent owned by the government and still working properly.
According to him, “in the past people used to say that any business is not good in the hands of government, but that has been disproved, it all depends on how you manage it, the equity, structure or ownership structure doesn’t matter, for example Ethiopian Airlines is 100 percent owned by the government and it is working properly, the advice is for them not to be meddling in the aircraft day to day affairs, like procurement, aircraft purchases, employment of people, delaying the flights to lift the VIP’s or whatever, taking different roots or whatever, no, this is not allowed because airlines have their commitment to their own customers and therefore, there is the need to be run in the industry terms and conditions”.
He advised African leaders to cooperate with each other and follow the African union commission recommendation for Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).
Esayas Hailu woldemariam said it is only when the African leaders cooperate with each other that they can defend Africa’s traffic for African airlines.
“This is because there is a lot to defend and attack from the others, the other thing is for them to have a long term planning and also for them to ensure a very good and strict air tight corporate governance, that is a must, those are the key elements and success factors that will help any government setting up an airline in Africa to succeed .
He said long term planning is one Ethiopian Airlines success recipes.
In his words: “Ethiopian Airlines always has vision, 2010, vision 2020 and now we are scaling it up to vision 2035, right from next year, the year 2020 another 15 year horizon for our strategic planning. So long term planning requires fleet planning, route network planning, HR, system and resource planning, facility planning, you know the catering, the ground handling, the cargo, the academy, every plans have to go with that, even the fleet planning itself. You have to plan the appropriate type of fleet, you have to place your order well in advance, because aircraft is produced by order and not simply like cars you have to go to showrooms and pick. So all these require planning, our long term planning has been at the root of our success.”
Esayas Hailu woldemariam explained further that the autonomy from the Ethiopian government allowing the Airline, though 100 percent government owned public enterprise, but being allowed to run in terms of industry rules and regulations with no meddling on its commercial decisions and day to day running is another key factors promoting their success.
He listed the third factor as emphasis on technology, adding that new technologies are part of the success, as the airline brings new aircraft, new fleet, young age fleets.
He stated that: “This also part of the success, together with the planning is the management jurisprudence and strict corporate governance of the management. Whenever it comes to safety, security, transparency for example sourcing of anything, employment, decision, everything is only by meritocracy and also by transparent kind of strategic sourcing of everything. So management prudence as well as corporate governance is very strict. So these are some of the elements which are part of the success for Ethiopian Airlines. Whatever we prescribe, we also share experiences with our fellow African brothers and sister in those small airlines we are setting up in Africa. To be of capacity, we are trying to sell this model to them . For example a big executive of Ethiopian Airlines travelling for a business trip, if he takes cash advance, when he comes back, he will fix the expense report and returns cash due to the company.
“So this is part of the corporate governance, so whenever we are consulting for some African airlines, we pass this sort of strict corporate governance . Some of it could be strange to them because the big boss nobody wants to ask him, he can do whatever he likes in-terms of handling funds, but in Ethioian Airlines, that is a no no, and these are parts of our success story”.