Equatorial Guinea is again considering selling a portion of CEIBA Intercontinental shares to Ethiopian Airlines as part of its privatisation plan for the state-owned airline, according to a statement by the Vice Presidency and Press Office of the Central African country.

The matter was discussed between Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue and CEIBA Intercontinental's director general Agnes Khunwana on March 18 after Ethiopian Airlines expressed official interest and provided the Malabo administration with requested information for negotiations.

At the meeting, Khunwana highlighted the airline's ongoing challenges since July last year when she took over the company's reins. She said the airline's main problem was a lack of liquidity, hindering planned projects like hub creation, route expansion, and aircraft reactivation.

Nguema Obiang agreed the airline's situation was "alarming" despite a change of Board and the government's injection of XAF9 billion CFA francs (USD14.8 million), leading him to the conclusion that the only solution was to privatise the airline and prompting consideration of Ethiopian Airlines' proposal. To assess CEIBA Intercontinental's value, the Vice President instructed the country's civil aviation authority to engage an expert office promptly to value the airline.

Neither Ethiopian Airlines nor CEIBA Intercontinental was immediately able to comment.

The news comes after the airline in November last year reported progress in its operational restructuring and improved monthly income from XAF195 million (USD319,467) in June 2023, to XAF750 million (USD1.2 million) in July, to XAF890 million (USD1.4 million) in August, indicating improved revenue management. The airline was focusing on repositioning itself in the market and resuming the international destinations it had previously served.

Ethiopian Airlines was already being considered in May last year to manage CEIBA Intercontinental and the country's airports, the latter contract having been awarded to Abu Dhabi-based Terminals Holding. Nguema Obiang has recommended that Terminal Holding be informed of the latest approach to Ethiopian Airlines "in case they want to take a position on the matter". International aviation consultancy Knighthood Global, led by former Etihad Airways chairman James Hogan, had also pitched its services to Malabo at one point.

Nguema Obiang first announced an international tender to privatise the state carrier in November 2022. The airline is one of five state-owned enterprises to be privatised as part of an agreement between Equatorial Guinea and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2019.

Meanwhile, the May 18 meeting also discussed progress on the new Bata airport was also discussed, with an estimated completion date of seven months.