Ethiopia is planning to relax seat restrictions on privately-owned airlines as part of its proposed new aviation policy.

Ethiopia’s Reporter newspaper says a draft of the document, which has been circulated among stakeholders, will see private airlines allowed to operate 50+ seater aircraft for the first time. Current measures have been labelled anti-competitive as they give state-owned national carrier Ethiopian Airlines (ET, Addis Ababa) an unfair advantage.

The draft also proposes allowing private, Ethiopian-owned firms to operate airports. Previously, the sector was reserved for the Ethiopian Airports Enterprise (EAE) parastatal which owns and manages all airports across the country.

However, the draft also proposes heavily restricting foreign investment in the local aviation sector requiring all Ethiopian-registered airlines to be owned by Ethiopian nationals exclusively. Previous reports had indicated a possible relaxation of foreign shareholding caps to 40% of total equity.

At present, Ethiopia’s private airline sector includes operators such as National Airways (Ethiopia) (9Y, Addis Ababa), East African Aviation (Addis Ababa), Midroc Aviation (Addis Ababa), Trans Nation Airways (TNW, Addis Ababa), and three start-ups namely Nogob Aviation, Horn Express Airlines, and Lucy Airlines.

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