The French Development Bank (Agence Francaise de Developement — AFD) has agreed to issue a loan of up to 30 million euros to the state owned Ethiopian Airlines to enable them upgrade their Aviation Training Academy.
The training academy, established in 1957 immediately after the establishment of the airline, was initially expected to help strengthen the airline’s chances of survival as well as ensure its domestic growth. It however grew into a multinational training centre as many training units were added, thereby attracting several African and Middle Eastern countries to take part in their programs.
Four months ago, Ethiopian Airlines signed an agreement with the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) to make the Ethiopian Airlines Aviation Academy an authorized IATA training center, giving them the opportunity to host standardized IATA aviation courses to regional aviation communities. This came after their various training units were consolidated under a newly restructured Ethiopian Airlines Aviation Academy.
Faced with growing training demands, Ethiopian airlines requested the multi-million loan from AFD to help upgrade its training facilities. In a funding request sent to AFD in 2008, the academy explained that although it is equipped with a well-organized technical training hangar and workshops, live maintenance training aircraft and simulators, among others, it still couldn’t cope with the growing training demands for pilots, aviation maintenance, cabin crews, and commercial operations.
“Ethiopian airlines is one of the world fastest growing company and its position in Africa is more and more important”, reads an AFD report released on October 14, 2009. The report also expresses the agency’s agreement to lend the airline an amount of 30 million euros in the coming months so as to enable it respond to the growing training demand.
AFD has increased its development assistance to Ethiopia in recent years to become one of the country’s strongest foreign partners. In 2008, loans from the AFD to the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPC) amounted to some 45 millon euros.
The French agency is currently supporting the EEPC to develop a wind park, which upon completion is expected to generate 120MW wind power. Groupe Vergnet, a French wind turbine manufacturer, is carrying out the 212 million euro project.
AFD has, in recent years, increased its development assistance to Sub Saharan African countries. The agency’s commitments to developing countries grew by 25 percent in 2008, reaching a total of 2.5 billion euros, out of which 41 percent went to Sub Saharan African countries, according to the report.