Ethiopian Airlines is teaming up with four African airlines and has inked a deal to set up a fifth, the company's chief executive told AFP, as it continues its expansion on the continent.
The group's CEO Tewolde Gebremariam told AFP on Tuesday that his company has finalised deals giving it a 49% stake in the national airlines of Guinea - which recently relaunched after 15 years on the ground - and Chad - whose airline was grounded in 2012 over serious safety concerns.
It has also finalised a deal to take a 45% stake in Zambia Airways, which went under in the nineties, and taken over the management of Equatorial Guinea's airline which has also battled safety concerns.
Ethiopian Airlines has also formed a new airline in Mozambique with full ownership.
"Guinea Airlines is preparing to start flights to neighbouring and regional countries soon, Chad Airlines will start work on 1 October, Mozambique Airlines will start operations by the end of the year and at the request of Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang, ET has taken over complete management of the country's national air carrier," said Gebremariam.
Gebremariam said Ethiopian Airlines was already the biggest African air operator, transporting about 10.6 million passengers during the fiscal year which ended in July.
He said the airline wanted closer ties with other carriers on the continent to create a feeling that it is an "African airline", in line with African Union goals for greater economic integration.
Ethiopian Airlines also recently announced talks to buy a stake in Eritrean Airlines after a landmark peace deal ended a bitter 20-year conflict between the two nations and they resumed air links.
The carrier from Africa's second most populous country already has interests in the airline of Malawi and Togo-based private carrier ASKY, and has signalled its desire to help establish nascent state-run carrier Nigeria Air.