Ethiopia Airlines to begin permanent flights from Port Harcourt

.Strikes deal with Rivers govt

By Valentine Amanze

Rivers State government and the management of Ethiopian Airlines have struck a deal 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 pact 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, disclosed that Ethiopian Airlines had agreed to fly permanently from Port Harcourt International Airport subject to the approval of the Federal Authorities of Nigeria after the meeting with Rivers State officials.

His words: "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 needed the initial support of the Rivers State government for handling and aviation infrastructure in Port Harcourt to develop the new market.

He also disclosed that the Ethiopian Airlines would embark on advertisements to promote Port Harcourt as a tourist and investment destination.
Besides, the Vice President, Strategic Planning, Busera Awel of Ethiopian Airlines made a presentation on the capacity and vision of the airline for the continent.
Responding, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, said that the state government was willing to provide an enabling environment for the Ethiopian Airlines to operate in the state.
He assured that he would meet with the Minister of Aviation to ensure that Port Harcourt International Airport was approved for Ethiopian Airlines as a destination.
The governor also said that his administration
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 its interest in expanding and retaining services in Port Harcourt city. He promised that the state government would offer its social partnership, goodwill and support.
Wike was accompanied by the former Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, 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.

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