Friday, 06 March 2020 10:22

Coronavirus: Ethiopian Airlimes Says They Have No Plan To Stop China Flights

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The Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, Tewolde Gebremariam, has insisted that there is no plan to stop flights to China. According to him, stopping flights to China is not a solution to fight the novel coronavirus. He spoke on Thursday at the 5th Africa Aviation conference being held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Daily Trust reports that many foreign airlines have stopped flights to China in the wake of the ravaging COVID-19 outbreak.

On a daily basis, passengers from China come into Nigeria via all the international airports where Ethiopian Airlines flies to. On Monday, a Chinese man aboard an ET flight was quarantined after persistently coughing on arrival at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos. The Chinese man was later found to be free of the virus. Last month, two major East African carriers – Kenya Airways and Rwand Air – had last suspended all flights to and from China until further notice.

Just on Tuesday, Kenya halted direct flights from Italy’s northern cities of Verona and Milan. But Gebremariam insists stopping flights to China is not a solution to fight the coronavirus outbreak. “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 other 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 a 20 percent decline in demand. It’s a big shock, but aviation is used to this kind of shock. Diseases, natural disasters, wars, sudden spikes in oil prices, we’re used to it,” he added.

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