Boeing hires former Ethiopian Airlines executive to lead Africa push from Addis office

Boeing’s appointment of former Ethiopian ambassador Henok Teferra Shawl as managing director for Boeing Africa comes weeks after the US aircraft manufacturing giant signed a bumper deal to supply Ethiopian Airlines with new aircraft.


Image : Markus Mainka / Adobe Stock

US aircraft giant Boeing has appointed former Ethiopian Airlines vice-president Henok Teferra Shawl as the new managing director for Boeing Africa as the firm looks to use Ethiopia as a base for African expansion in the wake of a huge contract to supply planes to Ethiopian Airlines.

Shawl will be based in Addis Ababa, where Boeing plans to open an office in early 2024. Previously, Shawl was vice-president of strategic planning and alliances at Ethiopian Airlines, and the chief operating officer and board member of ASKY Airlines. He also previously served as Ethiopia’s ambassador to France, Spain, Portugal, Monaco, and the Vatican. Shawl joins Boeing from Safaricom Telecommunication Ethiopia, where he was chief external affairs and regulatory officer. He will report to Kuljit Ghata-Aura, president of Boeing Middle East, Türkiye, Africa, and Central Asia.

At the Dubai Airshow in mid-November, Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines announced that the flagship carrier has agreed to order 11 787 Dreamliner and 20 737 MAX planes with an option for 15 and 21 additional jets, respectively. This represents the largest-ever purchase of Boeing aeroplanes by an African airline. Ethiopian already operates Africa’s largest Dreamliner fleet with a mix of 787-8s and 787-9s.

“This order will enable us to modernise and increase our fleet in support of Ethiopian Airlines’ growth plan and our Vision 2035 Strategy,” commented Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mesfin Tasew at the time.

“Through this deal, we have solidified our decades-old exemplary business partnership with Boeing. The 787 Dreamliner and 737 MAX demonstrate Ethiopian Airlines’ environmentally conscious decisions and its commitment to serve passengers with the latest technologically advanced airplanes.

The order came some four and a half years after the crash of Ethiopian Flight 302 in April 2019, in which 157 people were killed. This was the second fatal accident involving a 737 MAX in five months and led to the grounding of the model worldwide. But Tasew expressed confidence in the aircraft.

“We believe we have checked and confirmed that the design defect of that aircraft has been fully corrected by Boeing,” said Tasew.

Expanding market

Boeing’s Commercial Market Outlook forecast for Africa projects the continent will need 1,025 planes over the next two decades. More than 70% of commercial deliveries are expected to be single-aisle jets. Africa’s overall air-traffic growth is forecast at 7.4% through 2042, the third-highest among global regions and above the global average growth rate of 6.1%.

“With Boeing airplanes serving as the backbone of Africa’s commercial fleet for over 75 years, Boeing also is playing an active role in enabling the growth of Africa’s aerospace industry by investing in talent, promoting innovation and assisting in the development of an industrial and manufacturing base,” said Kuljit Ghata-Aura, president of Boeing METACA. 

“We are delighted to have Henok Teferra Shawl join our team. With his exceptional background in aviation and government relations, we are confident in his ability to champion our mission in the African market.” 

Boeing also has a commercial services, sales and marketing team for Africa, led by Anbessie, which is dedicated to expanding the firm’s presence in Africa. 

Additional research by Charles Dietz

Want to continue reading? Subscribe today.

You've read all your free articles for this month! Subscribe now to enjoy full access to our content.

Digital Monthly

£8.00 / month

Receive full unlimited access to our articles, opinions, podcasts and more.

Digital Yearly

£70.00 / year

Our best value offer - save £26 and gain access to all of our digital content for an entire year!

David Thomas

Editor of African Business.