Ethiopia: Tewolde Gebremariam, The man behind the success of Ethiopian Airlines

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  • Since he became the CEO in 2011 to his retirement in 2022, yearly turnover grew from US$1 billion to US$4.5 billion
  • Ethiopian Airlines’ fleet increased from 33 to 131 planes, and passengers grew from 3 million to 12 million passengers a year
  • Tewolde explained that his decision to resign came after advice from his doctors to concentrate on his health

Last week, Mr Ato Tewolde Gebremariam, The Chief Executive of Ethiopian Airlines, retired for undisclosed health reasons. The Airlines will remember the honourable man for the revolution he brought from the day he got the main man job. Since he became the CEO in 2011 to his retirement in 2022, yearly turnover grew from US$1 billion to US$4.5 billion. The fleet increased from 33 to 131 planes, and passengers grew from 3 million to 12 million passengers a year.

He started working for the Ethiopian in 1985 as a transportation agent, occupying a set of senior leadership positions before ascending to the top spot.

In the 2021 Passenger’s Choice Awards by Skytrax, Ethiopian Airlines ranked the best Airline in Africa, notably the fastest growing Airline in Africa.

Read: Mass exodus from Ethiopia creates booming business for airlines

 

Ethiopian Airlines appoints Mr Mesfin Tasew Bekele as the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines. [Photo/LinkedIn]
In his capacity as the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, he has won several awards that include:

  • African best CEO of the year 2012.
  • Best African business leader award from the Washington D.C. based Corporate Council on Africa in 2013.
  • The Airline Strategy Award for Regional Leadership.
  • The Most Gender Focused CEO Award.
  • African Leadership Magazine Person of the Year Award. This aims to celebrate Africa’s finest diplomatic, business, and political leaders who contribute to the continent’s growth and development.
  • Recently, Mr Tewolde received “The Order of Rio Branco (Ordem de Rio Branco) award” in recognition of his firm leadership throughout the COVID Pandemic.

Read: Ethiopia Airlines expected to remain profitable despite pandemic

His resignation comes after eleven years of transformative leadership and the positioning the Ethiopian Airlines as a critical global trade and transport player.

In a letter addressed to the Airline’s staff members, Mr Tewolde explained that his decision to resign came after advice from his doctors to concentrate on his health.

Under my current health issues and medical treatment, I am not able to return to the office any time soon,” he wrote. “Hence, I have decided to retire early and focus on my medical treatment. My resignation request to the government has been accepted.”

Mr Tewolde GebreMariam has received medical treatment in the United States of America for the last six months.

Under his management, Ethiopia Airlines Group has grown fourfold in all measurements building more than US$700 million worth of vital infrastructures like Africa’s most prominent hotel, Cargo terminal, MRO hangars and shops, Aviation Academy and Full Flight Simulators.

His executive profile is not short of milestones in the positions he currently occupies.

  • Mr Tewolde GebreMariam serves as a member of the High-Level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport with the United Nations (U.N.).
  • He is the Chief Executive Board member of Star Alliance (a global aviation alliance bringing together 27 member airlines)
  • Mr Tewolde is a board member of; the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Airlink Advisory Council, Board of Directors of the Ethiopian Tourism Organization (ETO) and Board of Directors of Africa Travel Association (ATA)
  • Additionally, Tewolde is an Executive Committee member of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA).

Ethiopian Airlines. [Photo/Twitter]
Tewolde GebreMariam earned his B.A. Degree in Economics from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia and went ahead to pursue his Master’s Degree in Business Administration in the United Kingdom at Open University. He received an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters Honoris Causa from Addis Ababa University on July 13, 2019.

The New CEO of Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines Group has appointed a new CEO of Ethiopian Airlines effective March 23, 2022, Mr Mesfin Tasew Bekele.

Mr Mesfin Tasew has thirty-eight years of airline management experience in aircraft maintenance and engineering, procurement, information technology, flight operations, capability development, capacity building, development of corporate strategies, airline operation management, and corporate leadership. He did his Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from Open University in the United Kingdom, MSc degree in Electrical Engineering specializing in Communications Engineering and BSc degree in Electrical Engineering from Addis Ababa University.

He has been serving the Airline in different positions for over four decades.

Read: Ethiopian Airline’s CEO reveals new airport underway

I am a journalist who is an enthusiastic tech, business and investment news writer from across Africa. There is always something good happening in Africa but most gets lost in the stereotypes. I tell the stories that matter to the Africans for Africa. Have a tip? You can contact me at j.kangethe@theexchange.africa

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