ADDIS ABABA, March 4 (Xinhua) — The CEO of Ethiopia’s flag carrier, Ethiopian Airlines (ET) Tewolde Gebremariam on Wednesday said stopping flights to China is not a solution to fight novel coronavirus.
Speaking at the 5th Africa Aviation conference being held in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, Gebremariam said the novel coronavirus transmission won’t be prevented by stopping direct flights to China.
“Flying direct to China doesn’t mean we will stop novel coronavirus, because passengers from China can travel to African countries including Ethiopia through various others hubs. That’s what the interconnected world means.”
“As per the directive of the World Health Organization (WHO), stopping flights isn’t the answer. Isolating China because it has novel coronavirus outbreak isn’t fair,” said Gebremariam.
However, the ET CEO admitted the novel coronavirus disease is a major headache for Africa’s largest airlines with more than 120 international destinations.
“We’ve seen 20 percent decline in demand. It’s a big shock, but aviation is used to this kind of shock. Diseases, natural disasters, wars, sudden spike in oil prices, we’re used to it.”
“We have the experience, the capability and skill to come out of this on top. We still remain focused on ET’s strategic ambitions,” said Gebremariam.
ET currently operates daily passenger flights from Addis Ababa to Guangzhou and Beijing, and three-times-a-week passenger flights to Chengdu, as well as daily passenger and cargo flights to Hong Kong and Shanghai. ET was among the first African airlines to start flight services to China.
Recently, Ethiopian Airlines has unveiled a series of measures to boost its presence in the Chinese market, which is already ET’s single largest air market.
This includes planning to open flights to the Chinese cities of Chongqing, Shenzhen and Zhengzhou.