NIGERIA- Ethiopian Airlines, the largest and most profitable airline in Africa has said that it is ready and capable of launching international flights into River State’ Port Harcourt International airport.

The airline said this after it reached an agreement with the Rivers State Government for the operation of permanent international flights from the airport subject to the approval of the relevant federal authorities.

During the signing of the agreement at the headquarters of Ethiopian Airlines in Addis Ababa, Chief Commercial Officer of the airline, Esayas Mariam said that they were willing to regularly fly into Port Harcourt but they need another approval to operate the Port Harcourt route since they had already exhausted the existing bilateral agreements with Nigeria.

 “We need your help to ensure that approval comes from the federal authorities. At first, there should be a temporary operating permit, pending the final approval,” said Mariam

Mariam added that Ethiopian Airlines needed the initial support of the Rivers State Government for handling and aviation infrastructure in Port Harcourt to develop the new market.

He declared that Ethiopian Airlines would also embark on advertisements to promote Port Harcourt as a tourist and investment destination.

In his response, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, declared that the state government was willing to provide an enabling environment for Ethiopian Airlines to operate in the state.

He promised that he would meet with the Minister of Aviation to ensure that Port Harcourt international airport was approved for Ethiopian Airlines as a destination.

Wike declared that his administration was working on making Port Harcourt a regional air transport hub for greater economic development of the state.

“I wish to assure you that we are ready to do everything within our powers and spheres of authority and influence to facilitate the realisation of your desire to sustainably fly from Port Harcourt to Addis Ababa and other parts of the world.”

Ethiopian Airlines currently has bilateral agreements with the federal government of Nigeria to fly into Abuja and Lagos cities.

 If successful, the Port Harcourt airport will be third international airport in Nigeria to be serviced by the airline.