Former CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Girma Wake, has joined the board of directors of Ethiopian Airlines Group as of last week.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) last week appointed three new board members including Girma Wake, Tadesse Tilahun, CEO of National Oil Company (NOC) and Aklilu Hailemichael, state minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The new board members were introduced to the board of directors chaired by Abadula Gemeda, former speaker of the House, on December 22, 2018. Deputy Chairman of the board is Arkebe Oqubay (PhD), who is also the board chairman of Industrial Parks Development Cooperation.

Senior executive of Ethiopian Airlines told The Reporter that the management of the airline is delighted to once again work with Girma Wake. “We are happy that Girma joined our board. We will benefit from his wealth of experience. He is considered as a father in the airline community,” the executive said.    

Girma told The Reporter that he is honored to serve the national airline. “I am always happy to serve our airline. I am committed to work for the national carrier together with my colleagues,” Girma said.   

Girma Wake served as CEO of Ethiopian Airlines from 2004 to 2011. Girma joined Ethiopian at a young age. He was trained at the Ethiopian Airlines Aviation Academy and served the airline for 34 years at various posts. In 1993 he had some disagreements with the then Ethiopian government officials and left the airlines to join Gulf Air. He also worked for DHL in the Middle East.

Up on the government’s request Girma retuned to Ethiopian in 2004 to take the CEO position. After successfully restructuring the airline he retired in 2011. After leaving Ethiopian at the age of 67, Girma served RwandAir as board chairman and worked as advisor of the Rwandese Minister of Transport. Currently, Girma is adviser of the president of Togo on aviation matters. Aged 75 Girma has a 50 year experience in the aviation industry. He is married and a father of five and has eight grandchildren.

Girma is also board chairman of United Insurance SC, one of the private insurance companies operating in Ethiopia.

On the flip side, stakeholders voiced their reservations on the appointment of Tadesse Tilahun of NOC. Industry sources said that since NOC supplies aviation fuel to Ethiopian Airlines Tadesse’s appointment as board member is a conflict of interest. 

However, Tadesse told The Reporter that the motive behind his appointment is to encourage the participation of the private sector which he supports. “Fuel purchase is something that goes through tendering process. This is not something that is usually presented to the board. If there is a chance that fuel purchase issue is presented to the board then I will recuse myself and not participate in that board meeting,” he said.

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