West Africa’s newest airline, ASKY, registered in Togo, will make its maiden flight in April, a month after the arrival of a team of managers seconded by the Ethiopian Airlines, executives disclosed Friday.
Ethiopian Airlines Chief Executive Officer Girma Wake said final arrangements were underway to have a set of new aircraft delivered to the new airline, in which it would retain a 25 per cent shareholding, before it makes its maiden flight.
“We expect to make the maiden flight by April when we expect the first set of aircraft would have arrived, if not, we will even use Ethiopian Airlines aircraft to launch the new airline,” Wake said.
Wake, who was speaking after signing a new management contract with ASKY, said the Ethiopian Airlines would shift its main aviation hub in the region to Lome, the Togelese capital, in time for the launch.
“We will even use the Ethiopian Airline aircraft to launch in April if the first deliveries would not have been made to the ASKY,” the Ethiopian aviation veteran and pilot, said.
ASKY Chairman Gervais Koffi Djondo signed a joint contract with the Ethiopian Airlines chief, allowing the Ethiopian to manage the ASKY business entity.
Ethiopian Airlines Vice President, Finance, Meseret Bitew, said under the management contract, the Ethiopian would recruit qualified staff from everywhere, including Togo, to manage the new airline.
He said the role of the Ethiopian was to identify aircraft maintenance crew and deploy them to manage the new airline while efforts were underway to train other airline staff to operate the ASKY services across the region.
Prospects appear to favour the new airline with the Ethiopian Airlines saying that it would provide the connection to the regional routes in West Africa.
The new hub in Togo would allow the Ethiopian Airlines to bring in its passengers directly into Togo, then allow the ASKY to distribute the passengers to other countries.
Wake said the managers from the Ethiopian Airlines were expected to arrive in Togo before the end of March to facilitate the launch of the new airline.
“We mean no danger to other airlines in Africa. The signing of this management contract does not mean other airlines are in danger. Africa is big and can accommodate more carriers, we cannot succeed by working in a selfish manner,” he said.
Wake said the signing of the agreement was a final commitment from the Ethiopian Airlines that it would work for the success of the new airline.
“We have to work to meet the deadline we promised to the West African heads of state. We are confirming that we have the confidence that it will stand out.”