Legendary Ethiopian Airlines CEO, GebreMariam quits

He is one of those people you wouldn’t look twice if you passed him in the street unless you were returning one of his infectious grins.

Modest, respectful, and quietly spoken but when he says something; it carries weight, substance, and direction.

Africa’s biggest airline by profit and fleet size, Ethiopian Airlines shocked the continent’s aviation industry when it announced the retirement of its legendary Group CEO Tewolde GebreMariam.

GebreMariam was the face of Ethiopian Airlines because of the phenomenal success he achieved for cementing the airline’s status as a global brand.

Despite significant setbacks to the global aviation industry, Ethiopian Airlines is continuing to grow and is setting its sights far past this crisis.

Ethiopian Airlines former Group CEO, Tewolde GebreMariam

Ethiopian Airlines couldn’t have been in safer hands during the pandemic than those of the group chief executive officer.

The former CEO had requested early retirement, citing his personal health issues as the reasons for his decision.

He requested the Board of Management of Ethiopian Airlines Group (the “Board”), for early retirement in order for him to focus his full attention on his medical treatment. He has been under medical treatment in the USA for the last six months.

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The Board, in its ordinary meeting held on Wednesday, March 23, 2022, has accepted Mr. Tewolde’s request for early retirement.

As he needs to focus on his personal health issues, he is unable to continue leading the airline as a Group CEO, a duty that demands a closer presence and full attention round the clock.

GebreMariam led the airline for over a decade with remarkable success reflected in its exceptional performance in all parameters including but not limited to exponential growth from $1billion annual turn-over to $4.5 Billion, from 33 airplanes to 130 airplanes and from $3 million passengers to 12 million passengers (pre-COVID).

Under his leadership, the airline group has grown by fourfold in all measurements, building more than $700 million worth of vital infrastructure like Africa’s biggest hotel, Cargo terminal, Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO) hangars, and shops, Aviation and Full Flight Simulators.

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The carrier, in a statement, said, “The Board, the senior management, employees and the whole Ethiopian Airlines family express their gratefulness for his contribution and wish him a full recovery soon.  The Board said it would announce the new Group CEO and the successor to Ato Tewolde GebreMariam shortly”.

Former CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, Ato Girma Wake has been appointed recently as a new Chairman of the Board of Management of Ethiopian Airlines Group by the Ethiopian Public Enterprises Holding & Administration Agency.

The carrier further stated that Wake is a highly experienced, successful, and well-regarded business leader and a well-known figure in the aviation industry who previously led Ethiopian Airlines for 7 years as a CEO and laid the foundation for fast and profitable growth of the airline.

The combination of his experience, work culture and drive make him capable of chairing the board and taking the airline to the next level. Wake’s decision-making skills are tested and well proved.

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He began his career in 1985 as a transportation agent. He worked his way through the ranks until he landed the top job in 2011

Ethiopian was a fairly small company for the first 60 years but over the last 15 years, it’s been revolutionized and has arguably proved itself the most adept airline in the world during coronavirus.

He recently told Aviation Metric, “We launched Vision 2025. Then, we had 34 airplanes, now we have 130. Our revenue was around $1.3 billion, it is now more than $4.5billion. We flew to fewer than 60 international destinations in 2011. Now, we have 127. This is not common in the industry”, he added

Wole Shadare