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The national flag carrier Ethiopian Airlines’ top officials on Friday sealed an agreement awarding a new headquarter design to local Architect firm, BET Architects PLC which partners with an international firm for the project.
The new headquarters with an estimated cost of 350 million birr is part of a multi million facility expansion projects Ethiopian is undertaking to materialize a fifteen year strategic plan to evolve into a diversified aviation group by 2025. A new maintenance hangar, aviation academy and students’ dormitories are among other facilities in the pipeline.
“The construction of the head office building is in line with vision 2025 growth plan in which number of employees will significantly increase. The current buildings are no longer large enough to accommodate the growth. This along with other factors has necessitated the construction of a new headquarters,” said Wogayehu Terefe, Ethiopian Manager of Public Relations and Publications.
The construction of the new headquarters could take up to 30 months once the design is complete, its architects say.
“Since the latest agreement was forthcoming after we have won the conceptual design competition a year ago, we have already held a project launching meeting with our partner and local subcontractors a few days ago here in Addis Ababa. So the detailed design phase can be seen as already in progress and it will take up to six months. Once the design is complete, we can then proceed to drafting a bid document that will take up to three months and it will be offered for contractors that will build the headquarters,” said Tesfamariam Teshome, a senior partner at BET Architects, in an interview on Friday.
Both sides are keeping the cost of the design to themselves.
Under the agreement that was months in the making, BET architects jointly with Söhne & Partner Architects of Austria will not only sketch the detailed design, but also are responsible for the HQ construction’s supervision and contract administration.
BET architects and Söhne & Partner Architects first won the conceptual design competition back in February 2011. They say their preliminary design that won a 10,000 dollar prize was inspired from carriers’ service of carrying people and goods.
“Inspirations for the airlines’ HQ could have been sourced from traditional and historical places or from more obvious objects like aircraft shape and such. But more conscientiously we said carriers such as Ethiopian Airlines are better reflected with their core business of transporting goods and people. This movement is also a movement of culture and exchange; it’s a flow of people and culture,” says BET’s Tesfamariam.
The winning ‘concept of flows’ led to a fragmented yet interconnected simple-single- forms to be organized like a village allowing the flow of people, air, light, and nature into and out of the building that will be Ethiopian Airlines’ new HQ in a 15,500 meter square total floor area, the designers say.
BET assembled four other local sub consultants to execute the task of the detailed design. Afro-European Engineers-a company formed by local and European Engineers, SANMECH consult, Buker Electrical Consultancy PLC jointly with Tefera Feleke Electrical Design PLC for Structural, Sanitary and Mechanical, and Electrical Engineering works respectively are part of the designer’ team.
“We are really excited about the venture; we have some of the best local teams that will partner with expatriates; it will definitely lead to knowhow transfer and experience sharing that will help the local industry develop a muscle to undertake multimillion dollar projects such as this one,” said Tesfamariam who, like his founding partner Daniel Alemayehu, has taught architecture at Addis Ababa University for twenty years.
In an unrelated development Ethiopian earlier this week announced firm orders to purchase five more Q400 Bombardier aircraft it uses for local and regional routes.
The latest purchase of Q400 NextGen, directly from the Canadian aircraft maker, increases the number of the Bombardiers Ethiopian operates to thirteen. Ethiopian says the Q-400 aircraft is envisioned to increase the business and tourism market of the country by enhancing its domestic and regional services.
Previously, as part of the efforts to modernize its fleet, the airlines sold its five Fokker 50s aircraft to the Fortran Aviation limited company based in Singapore. The turboprop-powered Fokker 50s are operated by an Indonesian new start up airline Pacific Royale.
Currently, Ethiopian operates 48 aircraft, of which eight are Q400 Bombardier.
“With its acquisition of and firm orders for several new modern fleet, the airline is well positioned to pursue aggressively the implementation of its 2025 strategic plan to become the leading aviation group in Africa,” the airlines said.
The African Aviation News Portal earlier this month awarded Ethiopian “Gold” in the African Airline of the Year 2011/2012 Awards.
The African Aviation News, in its news release of 09 February 2012, stated that Ethiopian Airlines emerged ahead of the pack collecting the highest number of the votes by the readers and followers of African Aviation. Readers voted in an online poll set up at the African Aviation’s website as well as in the various industry meetings and airline congress events.
“It gives an immense pleasure to the Ethiopian team to receive a vote of confidence for its services as the continent’s leading airline. The award underscores the continuous efforts and hard work of Ethiopian employees who are striving day and night to surpass customers’ expectations. Ethiopian is also grateful to its loyal customers for their continued feedback and support which, in turn, assisted us in enhancing the airline’s service excellence,” said Tewolde Gebremariam, Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, in a statement.