The biggest airline in Africa, Ethiopian Airlines has offered Air Zimbabwe a lucrative partnership deal that will see the airline bringing planes, train pilots and also assist the national airliner to become an aircraft maintenance hub in SADC region.

This was revealed when Ethiopian Airlines Group Chief Executive Officer Mr Tewolde Gebremarian when he paid a courtesy call on President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this Saturday (today).

Ethiopian Airlines is the biggest airline in Africa and it won the best African airline last year.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Retired Lieutenant General Dr Sibusiso Moyo told journalists after the meeting that Ethiopian Airlines which is already flying into Zimbabwe is eager to get into a partnership deal with the national carrier Air Zimbabwe.

“They are also prepared to support the organization for maintenance so that Zimbabwe becomes a hub of maintenance of aircraft just like Addis is. They would do that together with maintenance people of Air Zimbabwe and so that we can get a clear partnership which would then fly the Air Zimbabwe routes in code, sharing with Air Zimbabwe colours and they will fly all over the world using that particular agreement,” he said.

The Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet – Presidential Communications Mr George Charamba, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and permanent representative to the AU Ambassador Albert Chimbindi and other senior government officials were part of the meeting between President Mnangagwa and Mr Gebremarian.

Ethiopian Airlines have about $18 million hanging in its Zimbabwean account and President Mnangagwa and Mr Gebremarian discussed the issue.

“They touched on that and that it is worth about $18 million which is stuck in Zimbabwe but that was not so much of an issue because they believe that if they establish a partnership with Air Zimbabwe they will be able to get that money without any problems and in a very short space of time. His Excellency has also promised that my counterpart the Minister of Finance is going to take a serious position in terms of reducing that debt,” said Minister Moyo.

Meanwhile, Norway Prime Minister Ms Erna Solberg also paid a courtesy call on President Mnangagwa to have an understanding of the processes of investing in Zimbabwe and how both public and private owned organisations in Norway can participate in Zimbabwe.

President Mnangagwa told the premier the environment for investment in Zimbabwe is conducive and peaceful except for a few isolated events.

Norway is seeking a seat in the United Nations Security Council and the premier appealed to Zimbabwe to support them in their bid.

The UN Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Mr Never Mimica and UNDP Administrator Mr Achim Steiner also held bilateral talks with the President.

Details of their meetings were not yet available. zbc