Ethiopian Airlines CEO Resigns, New CEO Appointed

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Resigns, New CEO Appointed

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Yesterday it was revealed that Ethiopian Airlines’ CEO had resigned with immediate effect. We’ve now also learned who will be replacing him, so let’s go over all the details.

Tewolde GebreMariam resigns as Ethiopian Airlines CEO

Tewolde GebreMariam has resigned as CEO of Ethiopian Airlines. GebreMariam has been CEO of Ethiopian Airlines since 2011, and has been at the airline since 1985. I have the utmost respect for him — he truly worked his way up, all the way to becoming CEO. I’ve also heard nothing but good things about him as a person, how humble he is, and how he treats people with respect.

He also deserves a lot of credit for transforming Ethiopian Airlines into Africa’s biggest and most successful airline. Most long haul airlines in Africa have struggled with profitability and reliability (to put it mildly), but Ethiopian Airlines has shown how you can build a global, sustainable, reliable airline on the continent. His replacement has big shoes to fill.

Ethiopian Airlines’ CEO has resigned

What’s the reason for the CEO’s resignation?

Officially GebreMariam is resigning for health reasons. He has allegedly been seeking medical treatment (including in the United States) for the past six months, though details about his condition beyond that aren’t known. Of course my thoughts are with him, and that he can focus on his health and continue to live a good life.

There’s another interesting angle here, though. In recent times we’ve seen Ethiopia impose emergency laws targeting ethnic Tigrayans. I’ve written about how Ethiopian Airlines staff have been trying to escape the country by hiding on planes, as the situation seems to be pretty desperate for many.

It’s my understanding that GebreMariam is an ethnic Tigrayan, though he has lived in Addis Ababa most of his life. I’m not suggesting that this is the reason he’s resigning, though the timing of everything (especially with him being gone for around six months at the same time that this is going on) is interesting.

GebreMariam is resigning for health reasons

Mesfin Tasew appointed as Ethiopian Airlines CEO

The Board of Management of Ethiopian Airlines Group has announced that Mesfin Tasew will be the carrier’s new CEO, with immediate effect. Mesfin has been in the airline industry for 38 years. Most recently he was CEO of ASKY Airlines, a position he was appointed to in 2021. This is a profitable airline based in Togo that Ethiopian Airlines is a shareholder of.

Prior to that, Mesfin was Chief Operating Officer at Ethiopian Airlines for over a decade, from 2010 to 2021. He led the carrier’s profitable growth strategy. Prior to that he held roles that included Vice President of Maintenance and Engineering, Chief Information Officer, and more.

While I haven’t heard much about him prior to this announcement, he seems like a good fit for the role, so here’s to hoping he continues to lead the airline in the right direction.

Ethiopian Airlines has appointed a new CEO

Bottom line

Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam has resigned from his role due to health reasons. He’s being replaced by Mesfin Tasew, who has most recently been CEO of Asky Airlines, but prior to that was an executive at Ethiopian Airlines for decades. All the best to GebreMariam as he deals with health issues, and good luck to Tasew in his new role.

What do you make of this Ethiopian Airlines management change?

(Tip of the hat to Sean M.)

Conversations (13)
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  1. Muganzi Aiden Kasakya Guest

    As an African, I appreciate the ET brand for their professionalism and determination to succeed.
    Long live Ethiopia.

    With love from Uganda.

  2. Hailu Guest

    Mesfin is an excellent replacement. He has worked as chief operating officer of the airline for 11 years. He was working as CEO is Asky airlines for a year plus. He has 38 years experience at Ethiopian airlines. Ethiopian airlines will continue to be the star of Africa in the aviation sector.

  3. Sean M. Diamond

    Mesfin is a solid, though conservative choice. The final decision probably came down to him and Esayas Woldemariam. I wouldn't be surprised to see Esayas head off to Togo for a few years to pick up Mesfin's old job there as CEO of Asky. Mesfin is probably in his late 50s/early 60s, while Esayas is nearly a decade younger than him, so that would make sense from their succession planning perspective as well.

    There has...

    Mesfin is a solid, though conservative choice. The final decision probably came down to him and Esayas Woldemariam. I wouldn't be surprised to see Esayas head off to Togo for a few years to pick up Mesfin's old job there as CEO of Asky. Mesfin is probably in his late 50s/early 60s, while Esayas is nearly a decade younger than him, so that would make sense from their succession planning perspective as well.

    There has been a quiet regime change happening in Ethiopian's upper management over the last few months and over half the VPs and Department Heads have changed, and now the Board of Directors has also been reconstituted under Ato Girma's chairmanship. This will give Mesfin the chance to stamp his own legacy on the next chapter of Ethiopian Airlines' incredible success story.

  4. Ronald Guest

    Oh no. I had the privilege to meet his predecessor. He offered me a free round trip and ofcourse silly me I didn't accept the offer. It was because of my disappointment at not securing funding that would've position me to work closely with EIAR (Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research). Looking back I should've cleared my head and accepted it. I've been watching Ethiopian Airlines for the past 5 years and brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. They...

    Oh no. I had the privilege to meet his predecessor. He offered me a free round trip and ofcourse silly me I didn't accept the offer. It was because of my disappointment at not securing funding that would've position me to work closely with EIAR (Ethiopian Institute for Agricultural Research). Looking back I should've cleared my head and accepted it. I've been watching Ethiopian Airlines for the past 5 years and brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. They must continue on their thriving trajectory and accept nothing less. They're on their way to becoming the world's largest and most successful airline. Blessings to CEO Gebremariam and I will continue to watch Ethiopian Airlines progress.

  5. Hiro Gold

    There was something special about Ethiopian Airlines. The attractive ticket prices, convenience, and unique treatment of customers (i.e. used to block adjacent seat for *G members in economy when flights not full) were some of pros that always brought me to use the airline. Even a 15-minute international transit at Addis Ababa made my checked bag arrive in the final destination as well.

    Wishing Mr. Gebremariam the best.

  6. Tom Guest

    Have once shared a bus ride from the airplane with him at IAD. The most humble person you can imagine in the role - would not have realized who he is if it wasn’t for the handful of passengers that came to respectfully greet him upon disembarking.

  7. Aditya Guest

    Today I booked my tickets on Ethiopian and I hear this news. Good luck to the departing CEO. He has done a superb job to bring Ethiopian airlines the best in Africa.

  8. Sean M. Diamond

    Good luck to Tewolde and I sincerely wish him the best in his future endeavours. I've known him personally for nearly 20 years and I honestly cannot think of a single moment in that period where he operated at anything less than full throttle. I truly hope the decision to retire was his own and not forced by political circumstances.

    That said, one announcement that seems to have slipped under the radar in the same...

    Good luck to Tewolde and I sincerely wish him the best in his future endeavours. I've known him personally for nearly 20 years and I honestly cannot think of a single moment in that period where he operated at anything less than full throttle. I truly hope the decision to retire was his own and not forced by political circumstances.

    That said, one announcement that seems to have slipped under the radar in the same press release as Tewolde's retirement is the appointment of Ato Girma Wake as the new Chairman of Ethiopian Airlines Group (he was already on the board but has now been elevated to Chairman). Girma was the architect of the "resurrection" of Ethiopian Airlines as CEO from 2004-2011 and is widely acknowledged as the "father of modern African aviation". Presumably Girma will also be directing the search for Tewolde's replacement (just as he picked Tewolde to succeed him 11 years ago). Knowing Girma and knowing most of the top executives at Ethiopian today, I am confident that the succession process is in very good hands and the right internal candidate will be found.

    1. Chandan Bhat Member

      Given that Air India is looking for a new CEO, what are the chances of Tewolde taking up the post over at AIC?

    2. Hiro Gold

      I was expecting Sean M. would be the next ceo

  9. David Guest

    Sorry to hear that. I wish him the best. A frequent flyer of ET for years, I've really come to appreciate their network reach and service. He's done a wonderful job. And I guess some credit also goes to the Ethiopian government for keeping their hands pretty much off the airline and its operation.

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Sean M. Diamond

Good luck to Tewolde and I sincerely wish him the best in his future endeavours. I've known him personally for nearly 20 years and I honestly cannot think of a single moment in that period where he operated at anything less than full throttle. I truly hope the decision to retire was his own and not forced by political circumstances. That said, one announcement that seems to have slipped under the radar in the same press release as Tewolde's retirement is the appointment of Ato Girma Wake as the new Chairman of Ethiopian Airlines Group (he was already on the board but has now been elevated to Chairman). Girma was the architect of the "resurrection" of Ethiopian Airlines as CEO from 2004-2011 and is widely acknowledged as the "father of modern African aviation". Presumably Girma will also be directing the search for Tewolde's replacement (just as he picked Tewolde to succeed him 11 years ago). Knowing Girma and knowing most of the top executives at Ethiopian today, I am confident that the succession process is in very good hands and the right internal candidate will be found.

4
Sean M. Diamond

Mesfin is a solid, though conservative choice. The final decision probably came down to him and Esayas Woldemariam. I wouldn't be surprised to see Esayas head off to Togo for a few years to pick up Mesfin's old job there as CEO of Asky. Mesfin is probably in his late 50s/early 60s, while Esayas is nearly a decade younger than him, so that would make sense from their succession planning perspective as well. There has been a quiet regime change happening in Ethiopian's upper management over the last few months and over half the VPs and Department Heads have changed, and now the Board of Directors has also been reconstituted under Ato Girma's chairmanship. This will give Mesfin the chance to stamp his own legacy on the next chapter of Ethiopian Airlines' incredible success story.

3
David Guest

Sorry to hear that. I wish him the best. A frequent flyer of ET for years, I've really come to appreciate their network reach and service. He's done a wonderful job. And I guess some credit also goes to the Ethiopian government for keeping their hands pretty much off the airline and its operation.

3
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