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A Respected Chairman Fired by Abiy Ahmed and Replaced By Air Force Commander for Political Purpose

Dectator Abiy Ahmed Ali fires a respected Chairman

Ethiopian Airlines’ Chairman had been fired, and was replaced by the head of the country’s Air Force. This has now been officially confirmed, and could have some major implications.

As of June 8, 2023, Girma Wake has been removed as Chairman of Ethiopian Airlines, and has been replaced by Yilma Merdasa, the Commander of the Ethiopian Air Force.

For context, Wake is one of Africa’s most respected airline executives. The 79-year-old served as CEO of Ethiopian Airlines from 2004 to 2011, growing it into Africa’s most successful long haul airline. He had spent his entire career in the airline industry, as he started at Ethiopian Airlines in 1965, upon his graduation. From 2012 to 2017 he was the Chairman of RwandAir, before eventually returning to Ethiopian Airlines.

Here’s what Ethiopian Airlines had to say about Wake:

Mr. Girma Wake has led the Group as Management Board Chairman since March 2022. During this period, Mr. Girma has provided effective guidance to the Group sharing his wealth of experience in the aviation field. Prior to that, he had served the airline in different capacities including as member of the Management Board, and CEO positions at different times. His contribution to the growth and success of the Airline Group has been enormous and will take a special place in the history of the Group.

Ethiopian Airlines would like to extend its gratitude and appreciation to Mr. Girma and wish him all the best in his new endeavors.

What’s the motive for this management change?

While it’s official that Ethiopian Airlines has appointed a new Chairman, the motive for this change isn’t being made public. The rumor (which I can’t personally vouch for) seems to be that Wake was removed from his position because he refused to remove Ethiopian Airlines CEO Mesfin Tasew from his role, and replace him with Ethiopian Airlines CCO Lemma Yadecha.

If that’s the case, then it would appear that the motive here is political, given Ethiopia’s ethnic conflict. The CEO who reportedly could be removed is Amhara, while the CCO who reportedly may replace him is Oromian. These are the two largest ethnic groups in Ethiopia, and this has been a big source of conflict in Ethiopia for years.

If this is all accurate, it appears that this is more about Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed continuing to build a political alliance wherever he can, including at the country’s national airline.

I think the big question is if this is just symbolic, or if we’ll actually see a major shakeup in how Ethiopian Airlines is run. I mean, replacing the country’s most experienced airline executive, who has been involved in civil aviation for nearly 60 years, with an Air Force officer who is a loyalist to the Prime Minister, seems like it might not be great for business.

I imagine this wouldn’t be good for international confidence in the airline either. However, Ethiopian Airlines has weathered a lot of conflicts and management changes over the years, and has continued to be successful. Hopefully this doesn’t change that trajectory.

It remains to be seen what this means for the airline

Bottom line

Ethiopian Airlines’ Chairman has just been fired, and replaced by Ethiopia’s Air Force Commander. While it hasn’t been officially stated, this is reportedly because the Chairman refused to fire the CEO and replace him with the CCO, which seems to come down to an ethnic conflict.

It’s definitely not a great look when an otherwise successful airline is taken over by a military leader. I’m curious to see how this plays out over time. I have nothing but respect for Wake, and what he has done for aviation in Ethiopia.

What do you make of this shakeup at Ethiopian Airlines?

Source- onemileatatime

8 thoughts on “A Respected Chairman Fired by Abiy Ahmed and Replaced By Air Force Commander for Political Purpose”

  1. This is it! This is it!
    What is ‘This is it’ about it, Ittu?
    That is it! I have decided to change the name of this airline.
    What is the name you came up with, Ittu?
    I have named it ‘Ittu’s Airline’ and there is nothing you can do about it. Every plane is now painted with this new name. The decals, the menus including the dinner plates and napkins are all labeled as such. I am gonna hold a party in Minneapolis tomorrow beginning at 07:00PM tomorrow. Guest speakers are Af-mishar, Pants-On-Fire and Know-It-All. Also speaking at the party are Tweedy Bird, Bugs Bunny and Putty Tat. I expect more than a million party goers. So don’t you dare call this airline other than Ittu’s Airline. Don’t even think about it!!! I’m sure you have seen my new commercial announcing and promoting Ittu’s Airline on CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, BBC and every media outlet out there yesterday and today. I discovered last week that EAL was founded on stolen money from my merchant uncle 80 years ago. Isn’t that exiting?

  2. What is Ethiopian Air lines chairman means? Better to mention Girma Wake’s position properly. You named him also Wake and Wako in the same issue. How do you evaluate your self?

  3. My information is Obbo Girma Wake had resigned from his position as chairman of the legendary airline. We should all remember that he is already in the retirement years of his life. Leading this huge and growing airline is a pressure cooker job. May be he has found it timely to spend valuable full time with his family, grandchildren all that. But I don’t get it why a military man was chosen for the position. In any case, I extend my best wishes to both countrymen.

    1. I believe your information is dead wrong. He was a chairman of the Board which makes strategic decision and meet not so often. He is not the CEO who over see the day to day operation of the Organization. Also, he came to EAL not for the salary or any benefit but for love of Country.

      Mostly Board Members and Chairman are retired or well experienced leaders, so your point is actually opposite to what Honorable Girma Wake at this time would want to do.

      1. Okay. You are always right and I am always wrong about chairmen that they never retire and serve in such position until they are taken out on a stretcher.

  4. Degone Moretew Pastor

    Ethiopian AirLines has been successful and profitable leading air business firm.
    The former East African airlines by Kenya,Uganda and Tanzania collapsed because of corruption and one of their chief praise Ethiopian airlines with great words.
    This time the ignorant talk show attention seeker Aby Ahmed the psycho-lunatic blinded by racism and assigned this immature man to destroy the Ethiopian airlines of great legacy shame shame shame.Pastor Degone Moretew

  5. Obbo Chairman Girma Wake is an 80 year-old elderly man. May be it was time for him to spend more time with his family and decided to retire. His predecessor had also suddenly departed and later on it was reported as medical reasons. Running a business is not an easy job let alone running a huge airline like EAL. It is a pressure cooker to the extreme. I prefer to wait to hear from him or those closest to him to tell us all about it. But I am not sure about a military man running a civilian airline. But I wish them both the best because EAL is one of those entities that has been making me proud since I saw one of its DC planes parked at Aden airport in the 1950’s when that city was still under British Protectorate. It had weathered the sticky fingers of Mengistu in the 1970’s(He was too dumb to understand business anyway) and my hope is it will continue to do so by the efforts of the real sons and daughters of that gem of the colored. I bet you these cursed demonic bigots are salivating out there to destroy this pride of millions

  6. Today it was reported that the Airlines revenue had skyrocketed by 20%. To all of you who have been praying and predicting doomsday for this best of the best airline, this in your uncomely face!!! Go out and throw yourself down to your demise from the highest building you can find in your joint. This airline is fortunate enough to have the overqualified CEO Obbo Mesfin bin Tasew. United Airline would kill to get a CEO like this patriot. American Airline would start a nuclear war to find such genius as its CEO. I can’t believe you guys. Your hate to that gem of the color is so strong that you sit on your lazy lard asses and spin this and that just to quench your bigotry. I wish you were not even born. Take a friggin walk! Out of my sight!!!!

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