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Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam Retires

An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner Landing. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Last week, Ethiopian Airlines confirmed that CEO Tewolde GebreMariam has taken early retirement after more than a decade at the helm.

Tewolde Gebremariam, through a correspondence with Reuters, said last Wednesday he had resigned from his position which he held for 11 years, to focus on his medical treatment. He has been receiving medical treatment in the U.S for the past six months.

GebreMariam became the CEO of Ethiopian in January 2011 at a time when the airline operated around 33 aircraft. Over the past decade, its fleet has increased to 120 aircraft — with a further 36 on order.

His retirement as the CEO of the largest African airline is the latest in a leadership change at the continent’s largest carrier, and the new executives are tasked with driving the airline’s recovery in the post-pandemic time period.

Under GebreMariam’s leadership, the airline has grown by fourfold in all measurements and built more than USD 700 million worth of vital infrastructures like Africa’s biggest hotel, Cargo terminal, MRO hangars and shops, Aviation Academy and Full Flight Simulators.

His career also included a win for a number of accolades including “African CEO of the Year” and “Best African Business Leader.” GebreMariam has been at the airline for 37 years.

Airline’s New CEO

Meanwhile, Mesfin Tasew Bekele has been named as his replacement. He has 38 years of experience in airline management and operations. He has been the CEO of Lomé, Togo-based ASKY Airlines – a private multinational passenger airline serving west and central Africa where Ethiopian Airlines is a 40% shareholder since 2021.

Prior to that, Bekele also served as Ethiopian’s CCO from 2010 until leaving for ASKY.

Speaking on his appointment, Mesfin Tassew said, “I am honored and humbled to be appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines Group which I have been serving for nearly four decades in various positions. My new role gives me the opportunity to carry on with the fast and profitable growth of our beloved airline and take it to the next level. I call on all my colleagues at Ethiopian to join hands and forge ahead for further success.”

OAG Schedules Analyser data shows that capacity increased from 8.3 million seats in 2012 to 21.5 million in 2019, during GebreMariam’s time in charge,

However, passenger capacity dropped to 11.8 million due to the coronavirus-induced travel slow down in 2020, which then rebounded to 14.8 million last year. Operational figures from March 2022 show that the carrier is operating about 1.3 million monthly seats — about 77% of the total offered in March 2019 before the pandemic

In terms of destinations, Ethiopian is currently flying to 114 destinations around the world from its hub in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Victor Shalton


  • Victor Shalton

    Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Victor’s love for aviation goes way back to when he was 11-years-old. Living close to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, he developed a love for planes and he even recalls aspiring to be a future airline executive for Kenya Airways. He also has a passion in the arts and loves writing and had his own aviation blog prior to joining AirlineGeeks. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration at DeKUT and aspiring to make a career in a more aviation-related course.

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