Ethiopian Airlines has finalized a deal to acquire 49% of Air Malawi, which will be renamed as Malawian Airlines Ltd., according to local media reports.

Earlier this year, Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam told ATW he was in negotiations with Air Malawi to create a hub in the southern part of Africa. “We are in discussions. The plan is to transfer to Air Malawi one Boeing 737 as well as one [Bombardier] Q400,” he told ATW on the sidelines of the IATA AGM in June.

Malawi’s Public Private Partnership Commission (PPPC) CEO Jimmy Lipunga said the deal “is now settled” during a press conference Wednesday, reported by various media outlets. He added that the government has agreed to change the airline’s name to Malawian Airlines Ltd.

Star Alliance member Ethiopian Airlines will take 49% of the venture as a strategic investor, while the Malawi government will continue to hold a majority 51% shareholding.

Ethiopian Airlines, the Malawi authorities and Air Malawi could not be immediately reached for comment.

Ethiopian has a 40% stake in Togo, Lome-based ASKY Airlines.

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