Rivers State Government and the management of Ethiopian Airlines have reached an agreement in principle for the operation of permanent international flights from the Port Harcourt International Airport, subject to the approval of the relevant federal authorities.
The two parties reached the agreement at the Headquarters of Ethiopian Airlines after a high-powered meeting attended by the Group Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, Dr Tewolde Gebremariam, the Chief Commercial Officer, Esayas Wolde Mariam, Vice President, Strategic Planning, Busera Awel, Managing Director, Sales International, Lemma Yadecha, Regional Director, Sales and Services , Western Africa, Mitiku Asrat and Manager, Group Alliance and Commercial Cooperation, Hewoel Lemma.
Chief Commercial Officer, Esayas Wolde Mariam, in an address declared that Ethiopian Airlines has agreed to fly permanently from Port Harcourt International Airport subject to the approval of the Federal Authorities.
He said: “We are willing and capable to fly into Port Harcourt on a regular basis. For now, we have exhausted our Bilateral Air Agreement Approval and we need another approval to operate the Port Harcourt route.
“We need your help to ensure that approval comes from the Federal Authorities. At first, there should be a temporary operating permit, pending the final approval.”
The Chief Commercial Officer added that Ethiopian Airlines needs the initial support of the Rivers State Government for handling and aviation infrastructure in Port Harcourt to develop the new Market.
He declared that Ethiopian Airlines will also embark on advertisements to promote Port Harcourt as a tourist and investment destination.
Vice President, Strategic Planning, Busera Awel of Ethiopian Airlines made a presentation on the capacity and vision of the Airline for the continent.
In his response, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike declared that the State Government is willing to provide an enabling environment for Ethiopian Airlines to operate in the state. He assured that he will meet with the Minister of Aviation to ensure that Port Harcourt International Airport is approved for Ethiopian Airlines as a destination.
Wike declared that his administration is working on making Port Harcourt a regional air transport hub for greater economic development of the state.
He said: “As we therefore consolidate on our achievements, we want to also focus on making Port Harcourt city a regional air transport hub through the private public partnership approach while leveraging on the existing aviation infrastructure and related market and other advantages of the State.
“I wish to assure you that we are ready to do everything within our powers and spheres of authority and influence to facilitate the realization of your interest and desire directly and sustainably fly from Port Harcourt to Addis Ababa and other parts of the world”.
Wike thanked Ethiopian Airlines for their interest in expanding and retaining their services in Port Harcourt city. He said that the Rivers State Government will offer its social partnership, goodwill and support.
The Governor noted that Port Harcourt is strategically located to serve as a transit point for the entire South-South and parts of the South-East.
“We have agreed in principle that there is need for Ethiopian Airlines to fly from Port Harcourt to other destinations. Port Harcourt is a destination of choice, as it easily accessible for the entire South-South and other states in the South-East,’ Wike said.
Wike was accompanied by Former Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Rt Hon Austin Opara, Rivers State PDP Chairman, Bro Felix Obuah, Director General of Rivers State Bureau of Public Procurement, Mr Thompson Emmanuel, Former House of Assembly Member, Felix Nwaeke, Former Eleme Local Government Area Chairman, Chief Ejor N. Ejor and President of Port Harcourt Investors and Entrepreneurs Forum, Ibifiri Bob-Manuel.
Also on Thursday, Governor Wike was led on a Facility Tour at Ethiopian Airlines in Addis Ababa. The Governor and his delegation were briefed on the capacity of Ethiopian Airlines to Service the Port Harcourt-Addis Ababa International Route.
This route is a gateway to the Middle East and Fast East Asia. It is also a budget airline to Europe.