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Business: US EXIM bank approves $281m loan to Ethiopian Airlines despite opposition from congress members

Ethiopian Airline fleet at Bole International Airport. Photo: ©Aviation online/Screenshot

Addis Abeba – The US Export-Import Bank said its board of directors have unanimously approved on Thursday a $281 million loan to Ethiopian Airlines Group to buy Boeing passenger and cargo airplanes.

The bank said in a statement that, “these monies will finance the export of several Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft” adding that, “the first of this fleet were delivered in September 2022 and the remaining aircrafts are expected to be delivered by the end of March 2023”.

US Embassy in Addis Abeba tweeted on Friday saying that, “the partnership between Export-Import Bank and Ethiopian Airlines is another example of American and Ethiopian cooperation for shared prosperity”.

The approval of the loan came despite opposition from three members of the US congress who asked for the loan to belayed until “certain conditions are met” with regard to the implementation of a peace agreement reached on 02 November between the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan forces ending a two years war.

In a letter written to president of the US EXIM bank, US Secretaries of State and Commerce, the three members of the congress Brad Sherman, Ilhan Omar and James P. McGovern “peace process has not yet resulted in the kinds of full access, unfettered access and the massive scale-up of medical and health assistance that the people of Tigray need”.

Adding that, “the Ethiopian Government has still not restored full services to the whole Tigray region, saying there is “no timeline” for the restoration of internet, telecommunications, and banking that were cut off when the war began in November”.

The letter also accuses the loan recipient, Ethiopian Airlines, for having direct roles in the conflict saying that, “Ethiopian Airlines planes were used to transport arms between Addis Abeba and Eritrea, in a violation of international aviation law”, an allegation the flag carrier refutes. AS

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