It seems that after around 33 years with Ethiopian Airlines, Girma Wake is preparing to retire next January to be replaced by chief operating officer Tewolde Mariam.
Wake, who is a very well respected figure in African aviation, joined the airline in 1965 and left in 1993 to take up positions with Gulf Air and DHL. He rejoined Ethiopian as chief executive in 2004, after the board rejected his recommendations to promote a younger executive.
During my trip, Wake spoke to me about his retirement plans which seem to have shifted a bit.
Before Wake settles down for a well-earned retirement, he wants to see several key projects through to completion, namely the introduction of the Boeing 787, the renewal of Ethiopian's Fokker 50 domestic fleet with Bombardier Q400s and an upgrade of the airline's training academy. "I should have retired many years ago. Retirement age in Ethiopia is at 60 and I am already above 60 so I am free to retire any time, but I think I will take more time yet. Not because people aren't ready, there are projects that I have to finish. "Wake is keen to help Ethiopia and Africa move forward in terms of trade. "It makes me feel good because you can work anywhere, but very few places make you feel like you're changing something. Here, feeling as though I'm a part of the change gives me a very good feeling."
My (totally unsubstantiated) suspicion is that Wake has been earmarked as the new chief executive of The African Airlines Association (AFRAA) after Nick Fadugba's surprise resignation this summer. It makes a lot of sense. Ethiopian has developed strongly under Wake's leadership and has become an African airline role model. Wake is well-liked industry veteran and has a forward-looking vision for the industry - supporting and pushing forward the liberalisation agenda. Also, quite neatly, Wake is the current AFRAA president and this year's AFRAA annual general assembly will take place in Addis Ababa.
Perhaps this is Wake's opportunity to change things still further?
UPDATE: we managed to catch up with Wake at the Routes conference in Vancouver. He said his post Ehiopian plans were to "look after his grandchildren". He will relinquish all his postions - including the chief executive position at Ethiopian and the president position at AFRAA at the end of this year. As for the AFRAA chief executive's position there were 30 to 40 candidates. They are now interviewing 20 and he is confident they will find someone good.
Well, it was a good theory!
Photo credit: Billypix