Africa News blog
African business, politics and lifestyle
When news of the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash broke this morning my heart sank at the thought of covering yet another negative story about Ethiopia.
It’s particularly galling for Ethiopians that the airline is one of the few international success stories for a country known mostly for famine and war.
When the news emerged I also immediately knew how hard the company’s staff would take it. I’ve been to the sprawling campus that serves as headquarters to Africa’s arguably flagship airline many times. The last time was just last week to interview CEO Girma Wake and I left with a gift of Ethiopian coffee and the impression that I’d rarely seen people so passionate or proud about their work and what it does for their country.
Ethiopian Airlines is a company that Ethiopians are proud of. It has consistently expanded and remained profitable through tough times for other airlines and all manner of global economic strife. It has prioritized safety in a continent with a lamentable record and it is aggressively expanding into China and India.
Richard Branson’s Virgin group, one of the highest-profile investors in Nigeria, is locked in a dispute with the government about which airport terminal the Virgin Nigeria airline can use. At the heart of the row is an agreement Virgin says it struck with the previous administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, which the new government of President Umaru Yar’Adua is questioning.
Nigerian officials say past deals with international investors have not always been in the best interests of the country and that Yar’Adua wants to ensure Nigeria is no longer “short-changed”. Virgin has said it is in talks to sell its stake in Virgin Nigeria.