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Interview: Vince Goncalves Regional Vice President Africa at ExecuJet MRO Services

Could you tell us about your company?

ExecuJet MRO Services (ExecuJet) is a leading global multi-OEM MRO company with a strong presence around the world. It was founded in 1991 in South Africa, and then later established MRO businesses in Dubai, Australia, Malaysia, and Belgium as well as a franchise in Tianjin, China.

In 2019, ExecuJet became a member of the Dassault group of companies. ExecuJet specializes in airframe, avionics, and engine maintenance, and it supports various types of business jets including those manufactured by original aircraft manufacturers (OEMs) such as Dassault Aviation, Bombardier, Embraer Hawker, and Gulfstream.

While ExecuJet is a factory-owned Dassault MRO, it treats all OEMs equally. The technicians at ExecuJet are trained and certified on a wide range of business aircraft. The facilities hold multiple approvals including various national civil aviation regulators as well as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).

As an organization, ExecuJet prides itself on the culture of customer service and has won multiple international awards for its service excellence.

What industry/industries do you service?

ExecuJet MRO Services is a well-known and respected brand in the business aviation sector doing both line and heavy maintenance. It is also able to maintain some commercial aircraft types – for example, the Embraer ERJ-135/145.

What is your company’s growth strategy for 2023?

ExecuJet MRO Services in South Africa was recently appointed by Embraer as its authorized service center (ASC) for business jets in Africa. We will be supporting Embraer Legacy 600 and 650 business jets through line and heavy maintenance services, including warranty work. Under this agreement, we will continue to expand our capabilities to include Embraer’s entry-level and light jet family: the Phenom 100 and 300 series aircraft.

We will also continue to invest in more tooling to support the Embraer product and have already inducted qualified engineers to support the growing demand of the Embraer Phenom 300 series in Africa.

This year, we were also certified by the civil aviation bodies of Aruba and Malawi and will perform line and heavy maintenance on select aircraft types on those countries’ aircraft registries.

These certifications, which enhance our capability, will further help cement ExecuJet’s position as a regional multi-OEM MRO service center in Africa.

What are the long-term ambitions you’re aiming for, as an organization?

We plan to add more aircraft types to our MRO repertoire and expand our capability beyond airframe heavy maintenance to include cabin interior refurbishment work. By bundling airframe heavy maintenance checks with cabin refurbishment work we can provide more value to the customer and reduce the aircraft’s downtime. As the need for heavy maintenance on other aircraft types develops, ExecuJet MRO Services will expand its capabilities to include these aircraft types.

How will Africa develop in the Aviation industry in 2023 and how your companies can contribute?

Africa is one of the burgeoning markets for business jets with a total of 52 aircraft joining the fleet, according to data from market intelligence provider Jetnet. Business jet activity in Africa has witnessed a surge and jumped by 25% in May alone.

The African business aviation market is expected to grow year-on-year. Apart from the more developed markets such as South Africa and Nigeria, emerging markets such as Angola, Uganda, and Ghana are becoming important players in the industry.

Until last year, business jet activity throughout the region remained with an older fleet comprising Citation, Learjets, and Hawkers but there has been a shift in purchasing new business jets and newer pre-owned jets.

Business jets are vital for business in Africa because there are still many domestic airports with no reliable commercial air service and in terms of international flights, the continent still lacks the desired air connectivity to Europe, Asia, the Middle East, North America, etc.

As Africa’s business aircraft fleet expands within the region, maintenance needs are amplified. These trends create ample opportunities for the business aviation sector and ancillary industries in the continent. In this market, ExecuJet MRO Services envisages being a one-stop shop to assist clients and operators in all their maintenance requirements encompassing line, and base maintenance, aircraft pre-purchase inspections, cabin interior refurbishments, and avionics upgrades or modifications.

What are the opportunities for the aviation industry in Africa in 2023?

Thanks to Africa’s growing population and abundance of resources, economic activity will continue to shift to this part of the world. The growth of business aviation is very much in line with GDP growth.

The growing demand for business aviation air services creates an opportunity to develop the related aviation infrastructure. Fixed-based operations – the businesses responsible for aircraft refueling and provision of aircraft parking and passenger terminals – still remain few and far between in Africa. So, there is more opportunity to develop more FBOs in Africa.

As the business jet increases in size, it will also drive demand for maintenance services, fuelling demand for more MRO companies in-region. Only countries such as South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya have business aviation MRO facilities.

Any news or information from your organization you’d like to share?

Our Dubai operation recently took occupation of its new purpose-built facility at Dubai South. The facility can accommodate 18-24 business jets at one time and was intentionally sized to handle the very largest business jets, including the Falcon 6X and 10X, as well as large jets from other OEM’s. The new 15,344m2 (165,211ft2) MRO facility at Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) includes a hangar as well as adjacent workshops and offices. The new MRO facility will become ExecuJet’s new regional headquarters in Dubai. The company moved base maintenance to DWC from Dubai International Airport (DXB), although it will retain AOG capability at DXB.

Furthermore, our Malaysia operation is also in the process of building a new purpose-built facility. The new facility will have a gross floor area of approximately 149,500ft2 including corporate offices, customer areas and back shops that further expand ExecuJet’s MRO capabilities. The ultra-large aircraft hangar will be able to accommodate 10 to 15 business jets of various sizes simultaneously plus there will be a large, dedicated apron area for use.

A major milestone was reached in March 2023, with the installation of the two central columns. Each column is made of forged steel and is 12 meters long and weighs 45 tons. The installation of these columns is an important milestone. These two columns are the first structural part of the hangar to be installed and are there to support the weight of the hangar roof.

In the first phase of construction, foundation works including piles and pile-caps that prepare the site for the superstructure were laid, completing the groundwork after which the two steel columns were installed. Construction is progressing as planned with the start of the roof structure and offices under way.


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AVIATION: Ethiopian airlines suspends pilots for sleeping and unsafe landing

Ethiopian Airlines has suspended the crew of a flight on which both pilots reportedly fell asleep and missed their landing window in Addis Ababa.

The plane eventually landed safely, but experts said the incident raised questions about pilot fatigue on the airline, the largest air carrier in Africa.

The Aviation Herald, a news website for the aviation industry, reported Thursday that the two pilots were flying a Boeing 737 from Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, to Addis Ababa, apparently on Monday. “After overflying [the runway] … the autopilot disconnected, the disconnect wailer woke the crew up, who then maneuvered the aircraft for a safe landing,” the report said.

Ethiopian Airlines said Friday that the crew had been “removed from operation pending further investigation. Appropriate corrective action will be taken based on the outcome of the investigation. Safety has always been and will continue to be our first priority.”

The statement did not say whether the pilots had been sleeping.

Experts said the incident could have been a result of the airline overworking the pilots or other external factors.

Hassan Shahidi of the Flight Safety Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization, told VOA that pilot fatigue “would certainly be investigated in terms of exactly how many hours they were flying and potentially whether fatigue or scheduling may have played a role in this, but it is, at the end of the day, the responsibility of the crew if they are fatigued or if they are tired, to report that they’re tired.”

US, EU regulations

Airlines that fly in and out of the U.S. and European Union, as Ethiopian Airlines does, are bound by safety rules set by regulatory bodies in those jurisdictions. Failure to meet those rules means airlines can be banned from flying to U.S. and EU destinations.

The EU aviation regulator, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, told VOA via email that it was aware of the incident.

It said the agency evaluates information from many sources as part of its continuous monitoring of non-EU air carriers “and takes action as appropriate to ensure operations meet our safety expectations.”

The agency said it does not comment on individual cases.

Experts said a single incident like this was unlikely to jeopardize an airline’s ability to fly to the U.S. and EU.

Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s largest carrier and, according to experts, has a good safety record. Sean Mendis, a former regional airline manager in Africa, said, “I would not hesitate to fly on Ethiopian myself. I was on two Ethiopian Airlines flights this week already. I’ve got another one booked for the next few weeks. And, you know, Ethiopian does remain one of the safest airlines in Africa and, indeed, in the world.”

The outcome of the investigation was expected to come quickly, as Ethiopian Airlines attempts to dispel passenger concerns over safety.

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SIRIKA: FG to commence Nigeria Air’s flight operations

Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika has disclosed the Federal Government’s plan to begin flight operations of the national carrier, Nigeria Air with an initial three aircraft to be leased from other companies

Beyond the lease of the aircraft, the Federal Executive Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari approved a total sum of 1,506,285.7 euros, approximately N707,962,864.83 to enable the airport authorities to acquire working tools under the Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB.

Sirika said the flight operations will first begin locally, then progress to regional and international routes going forward.

The government is mulling the takeoff, soonest, despite existing challenges in the aviation industry, especially the rising cost of aviation fuel, the Jet A1.

The Nigerian national carrier logo had been launched abroad, a few years ago, when stakeholders in the Nigerian aviation sector took to an air fair to explore options available to it for effective execution.

Sirika said, “I presented two memoranda on the national carrier to allow Nigeria to lease aircraft to start operations. That has been approved by the council. And the second is the deployment of investigation tools by the Accident Investigation Bureau. That tool, will permit the accident investigation to be able to decode going ons in flights, and God forbid, should there be a need to investigate the accident or incident, the tool will help them to be able to do so. That procurement is in sum of 1,506,285.7 euros which is equivalent to N707,962,864.83.

“This will be including taxes at a central bank exchange rate of 472 in Euro with the delivery period of 11 months and is awarded to Messers Integrated Contract Services Limited for AIB.

“On how many aircraft, I have said in our business plan, in the outline business case which is approved which are presented right here in this hall, I said that we are starting with three aircraft, for the first instance, to do the runs and then we progress. As to the make and type, we will be eventually having a mix of the two, the Air Buses and the Boeings.

“Because every airline that to grow big is either or, most of them are either Air Bus or they are Boeing, especially for the Intercontinental and international flights. And this will start as a domestic airline. And then it will of course grow to become regional and international also intercontinental. On the timeline, is a process we’re progressing. We will announce the commencement date soon.

“On how they’re going to pull this through with the hiccups the aviation is facing, well certainly it is a global phenomenon. If you, of course, I’m very sure you are abreast with the going on around the aviation industry.

” But suddenly it’s not here forever. Aviation is a very resilient activity. From time before, it always takes a dip and then comes back up. We saw it in 9/11, we saw it in the south, and we saw it in the global meltdown. We saw it in Pearl Harbor, and so on and so forth. So aviation is very resilient. And I think we’ll get out of the problems we are facing. Of particular reference, yesterday all of you were present when we discussed with The Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) the challenges we’re facing in terms of Jet A1 availability and of course pricing, which is 40% of the operations of the airline.

“We’re finding solutions to those problems and the cost of funds also is being attended to and so on and so forth. So yes, we will get there. And it’s doable and by God’s grace”.

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Airlines may collapse soon over aviation fuel hike, excessive charges- Operators cries out

Over 70 airlines have gone into extinction in Nigeria in the past few years and three others currently in operation may collapse in the coming weeks, the Airline Operators of Nigeria said on Wednesday.

AON attributed the incessant collapse of airlines in Nigeria to the excessive charges confronting operators in the sector, among other concerns.

It, however, explained that the major reason capable of crumbling the operations of airlines currently was the high cost of aviation fuel, popularly called Jet A1.

Speaking on behalf of AON at the ongoing National Aviation Conference organised by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria in Abuja, the Chairman, Air Peace, Allen Onyema, said though airlines had been interfacing with the Federal Government on the high cost of aviation fuel, the commodity had continued its northward price movement. Barristerng reports

On the concerns in the sector and how it had been affecting airlines, the AON official said, “There are so many issues in the aviation industry. Issues like high taxes are making airlines to be unprofitable here.

“We pay excessive charges to the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency. Paying navigation charges is absurd for domestic operations. The mortality rate of airlines in Nigeria is alarming. Over 70 airlines have gone into extinction in the last few years.”

Commenting on the hike in the cost of Jet A1, Onyema said, “The current fuel crisis will take away three airlines in the next weeks. How do we make money in a situation where we pay salaries and charges to different aviation agencies?”

The jump in aviation fuel price as well as in the cost of diesel, which are both deregulated petroleum products, had led to the collapse of businesses both in the aviation and oil and gas sectors.

The National President, Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association, Bennett Korie, on Tuesday revealed that about 70 per cent of filling stations in Nigeria had closed shop due to the high cost of diesel.

He explained that the outlets had to shut down operations following their inability to purchase diesel at the current N850/litre price to power their trucks needed to transport petrol to their various stations nationwide.

In the aviation sector, Onyema also noted at the ongoing conference that the hike in aviation fuel price was putting severe strain on the operations of airlines. He, however, revealed that the Federal Government had given domestic airline operators some volumes of Jet A1.

“That is why we ran to the government and the Federal Government has given us about 10,000 metric tonnes of fuel at the cost of N580/litre in Lagos and about N607/litre outside Lagos,” he stated.

The Air Peace boss added, “This is not the only issue. Since the COVID-19 crisis, most airlines all over the world, including Nigeria have not recovered from COVID-19, except those whose countries have injected so much funds to assist airlines.

“This is nobody’s fault. It just happened. The government has tried its best by giving us this aviation fuel. This aviation fuel can take airlines out, not only in Nigeria but everywhere in the world.”

Onyema further noted that some airlines outside Nigeria had closed down because of the effects of rising aviation fuel, adding that the concerns should be addressed in Nigeria to avoid affecting the bottom line of all airlines in Nigeria.

The rise in global crude oil prices had warranted a hike in the cost of refined petroleum products across the world, a situation that had also heightened inflation in many countries, including Nigeria.

Also speaking on the cost of Jet A1, the Chairman, United Nigeria Airlines, Obiora Okonkwo, told journalists in Abuja that the government had listened to domestic airlines as regards the concern.

He said, “The government of the day was very magnanimous, kind, listened to us (domestic airlines) and put a lot of things in motion to manage the impact of the aviation fuel price increase.

“We are very happy and grateful to them but the truth of the situation is that those initiatives taken are still at the implementation stage. It has not been fully implemented, so we are not feeling the impact yet.

“Aviation fuel has continued to rise but I can tell you that some of those promises have been implemented and the impacts, we hope, we will feel soon.”

The hike in aviation fuel price also triggered a jump in the cost of airfares recently, as a one-hour flight ticket that earlier sold for an average of N30,000 rose to N50,000 as this was implemented by all domestic carriers.

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Accelerating African’s aviation recovery- ICAO

The leadership and key contributions of Kenya and Senegal to Africa’s aviation sector were the focus of recent bilateral meetings among ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar and Mr. James Macharia, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport (top image), and Mr. Alioune Sarr,  Minister of Tourism and Transport of Senegal.

The meetings took place during the Secretary General’s recent mission to ICAO’s Africa Regional Office host states, from 13 to 17 December 2021, with special focus on current priorities to accelerate the recovery of air connectivity through the implementation of ICAO Council Aviation Recovery Taskforce (CART) recommendations and exploring opportunities to enhance the presence and support to ICAO member states in both regions.

The meetings took place with special focus on current priorities to accelerate the recovery of air connectivity through the implementation of ICAO CART recommendations

Kenya and Senegal also host the regional United Nations offices for Africa, positioning their governments as key partners in efforts toward ICAO/UN aviation and sustainable development goals. Appreciating the governments’ long-standing commitments toward leading regional progress in the air transport sector, Mr. Salazar advocated for continued and enhanced regional cooperation under Kenya and Senegal’s leadership. In addition, plans for ICAO dedicated facilities in Nairobi and Senegal were discussed with host governments and United Nations officials.

These points were also stressed during a series of supporting meetings with 12 Directors General of Civil Aviation from the ICAO Eastern and Southern African (ESAF) region, as well as at a bilateral meeting with the Director General of Senegal’s National Agency for Civil Aviation and Meteorology, Mr. Sidy Gueye. Secretary General Salazar also held related discussions with representatives of the leadership of the Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA), and the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC).

Mr. Salazar’s meetings with the Director-General of the UN Office in Nairobi, Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura, and the Resident Coordinator of the UN System in Senegal, Mr. Siaka Coulibaly, resulted in agreements on heightening regional cooperation within the UN system. A further meeting with Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, the Executive Director of UN-Habitat, focussed specifically on enhancing the contributions of airports to sustainable development.

The Secretary General’s activities in Africa also included visits to the Eastern and Southern African (ESAF) and the Western and Central African (WACAF) Regional Offices, supported by Regional Directors Barry Kashambo and Prosper Zo’o Minto’o, respectively.

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Zanzibar Airports Set for New Era for Economic Development

Passenger services at Zanzibar airports are set for significant improvements, thanks to the newly signed business deal between the government and experienced service providers. And, President Hussein Mwinyi on Wednesday directed all government institutions at the airports – immigration, Tanzania Revenue Authority, fire brigade, and the police – to work closely with the new operators to provide the most appropriate services to customers.

He told the public institutions to facilitate instead of impeding operations. “Many tasks and decisions remain on government institutions; you should always facilitate instead of impeding the work.” Dr. Mwinyi said the government has made the bold decision to engage the internationally reputed companies – Dubai National Travel Agency (DNATA) and EGIS Group – to offer superb services that match the huge investment in the airport infrastructure.

The goal is to increase flights; bring more visitors and strengthen the national economy

“We have as a country investment a substantial amount of money in the development of AAKIA’s (Abeid Amani Karume International Airport) terminal three; wisdom dictates that we should equally provide services that mirror the imposing infrastructure,” President Mwinyi said at the well-attended signing ceremony at Vuga-based State House. He told his audience that the government is determined to provide world-class services to our visitors, and these are multinational companies with acceptable repute and capacities to perform.

The President explained that improved services at the airports will attract more visitors, leading to economic growth. “The goal is to increase flights; bring more visitors and strengthen the national economy,” he said. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works, Communication and Transport, Amour Bakari and Zanzibar Airports Authority (ZAA) Acting Director-General, Seif Abdallah Juma signed the agreement on behalf of the revolutionary government while DNATA Executive Vice-President, Steve Alen, and Christian Lugier inked for DNATA and EGIS, respectively.

The four-component deal entails ground handling services at Zanzibar’s AAKIA; airport management services; first and business class airport lounge handling; and duty-free shops at the airports. Works and Communication Minister, Rahma Kassim Ali said Zanzibar has experienced challenges in the provision of standard services in its airports, a serious impediment to tourism, which is the country’s key economic sector.

She said a thorough and painstaking process was used to pick the airport operators from many companies, which had expressed interest in the job. The Minister informed that construction works on the 25,0002 metre airport, capable of handling 1,6 million passengers annually, has reached 99 percent and will be commissioned before the end of this month.

DNATA’s Alen thanked the revolutionary government for the trust on his company, pledging to deliver world-class services to Zanzibar visitors. He said his company operations at the airport are expected to create over 400 jobs for the islanders.

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NAS Supports Gender Diversity through IATA’s 25 by 2025 Initiative

National Aviation Services (NAS), the fastest-growing aviation services provider in the emerging markets has signed IATA’s 25by2025 gender diversity initiative. 25by2025 is a voluntary initiative for aviation to improve female representation in the industry. The campaign is an initial step to making the aviation industry more gender-balanced.

Rabah Bu Hamdan, Group Chief Human Resources Officer for NAS said, “With employees from more than 65 nationalities, diversity and inclusion are an important part of our corporate culture. A diverse and inclusive workplace accelerates a company’s growth with a blend of cultures, ideas and points of view while empowering employees to do their best. In the last few years, we have endeavored to increase the number of women employees across our network reaching 20% of our total employee base. Our management team is made up of 19% women. By joining IATA’s 25by2025, we look forward to continuing these efforts and growing the participation of women not only at NAS but also within the aviation industry in general.”

By joining IATA’s 25by2025, we look forward to continuing these efforts and growing the participation of women not only at NAS but also within the aviation industry in general

By pledging its support, NAS joins over 80 aviation-related companies in committing to increasing female representation in senior roles and in areas where women are traditionally under-represented by 25%, or up to a minimum of 25% by 2025.  As a part of this pledge, NAS will also report annually on key diversity metrics and increase female nominations from their airlines for IATA governance roles to a minimum of 25% while working with IATA to increase the number of women appointed to IATA governance roles to a minimum of 25%.

Anton Grove, Vice President of People Performance & Development at IATA highlighted, “I welcome NAS’s commitment to pushing for a greater gender balance in the industry through IATA’s 25by2025 initiative. NAS is one of the very first service providers paving the way for a more gender-balanced industry, recognizing the need to take action. NAS’s commitment helps achieve that objective.”

NAS was recognized for the “Best Diversity and Inclusion Strategy” at the Future Workplace Awards 2020. With 10,000 employees, NAS operates in more than 55 airports across Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East. The largest airport services provider in Africa, NAS also manages over 50 airport lounges. Its extensive portfolio of services includes comprehensive ground handling, cargo management, innovative technology solutions, and training to seven of the world’s top ten airlines as well as key aviation hubs.

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France set to return colonial looted artwork to Benin

Benin’s President Patrice Talon signed an agreement on Tuesday to take back from France 26 artworks seized from the former French colony in the 19th century and said he hoped it would pave the way for more cultural treasures to be handed back.

The 26 artworks were taken in 1892 from Benin’s Palaces of Abomey – today a UNESCO World Heritage site – and have been on display in a museum in Paris, alongside thousands of other artefacts taken from Africa during colonial rule according to Reuters

They will now be handed back, but they are only some of the 5,000 works whose return Benin is seeking.

“You’ll agree with me that the restitution of 26 artworks we are celebrating today is only a step in the ambitious process of equity and of restitution of … heritage extorted from the territory of the Benin kingdom by France,” Talon said, speaking to French President Emmanuel Macron after a signing ceremony at the Elysee Palace.

The handover marks a milestone in the years-long fight by African countries to recover works taken by Western explorers and colonisers, at a time when numerous European institutions are grappling with the cultural legacies of colonialism.

The Quai Branly Museum in Paris alone holds some 70,000 African objects.

The process of handing back the artworks that France had taken from the Palaces of Abomey was first promised by Macron in 2017.
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Ethiopian Airlines commits ongoing lead support for Canada-Africa Chamber of Business

Ethiopian Airlines is the sole airline connecting Canada directly to the African continent, and onward to over 120 destinations from the dynamic capital of Addis Ababa.

The global leader in aviation renewed its support for The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business, following the 3-day Africa Accelerating conference, addressed by its Managing Director for Canada, Mr. Samson Arega. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the former President of South Africa, Hon. Kgalema Motlanthe, was among the nearly 50 speakers and 1500 virtual and in-person delegates at the event.

‘’Africa’s trade and supply chains are enabled by Ethiopian’s cargo capacity,’’ explained Samson Arega during his recent keynote address. Arega detailed the incredible case for Africa’s positioning as the world’s next global growth engine, predicated on the successful achievement of free trade within Africa – while noting the success already achieved in aviation by Ethiopian Airlines.

Africa’s trade and supply chains are enabled by Ethiopian’s cargo capacity

‘’So significant is the success that during the COVID-19 pandemic, cargo revenues ensured the airline remained profitable. Ethiopian Airlines did not lay off or furlough a single full-time employee and never sought a bailout.’’

Garreth Bloor, President of The Canada-Africa Chamber of Business, stated “As discussed during our engagements, the year-on-year growth of Ethiopian Airlines reflects its ability to not just keep up with Africa’s growth potential, but to serve as a key driving force of Africa’s development.’’

Ethiopian Airlines is now the world’s fourth-largest airline by the number of countries served, ensuring every market in Africa is within easy reach, with onward connections to every part of the world.

‘’We seek first place globally,’’ says Mr. Samson Arega.

‘’We know that will be achieved when we both drive and enable the next chapter in global economics, enabled in the context of a new era of Canada-Africa trade and investment collaboration – on both economics and public policy,’’ he concluded.

Watch the full Address here ( delivered at the Africa Accelerating conference, or read the text of the closing keynote speech (

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