Ethiopian Airlines defends flights to China

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By BBC Africa

The head of Africa’s biggest air carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, has defended his decision not to suspend flights to China, even at the height of the coronavirus outbreak there.

The airline was one of a handful of flight companies that continued to offer services to cities such as Beijing and Shanghai earlier this year.

Tewolde Gebremariam told the BBC his company had acted as a "lifeline" for African economies highly dependent on China for trade.

Mr Tewolde said his company did not believe there was a correlation between direct flights and the spread of the Covid-19 infection.

The chief executive pointed out that countries which had introduced more stringent travel restrictions had still suffered outbreaks.

However, he said he accepted that a balance had to be drawn between economic considerations and those of public health.

Mr Tewolde said steering the airline through the crisis was a steep challenge, but one it could survive by adding cargo flights to make up for lost passenger traffic.

 

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