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AVIATION AFRICA: Isolating China is not fair and ethical says Ethiopian CEO

Posted 4 March 2020 · Add Comment

Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Tewolde Gebremriam said that isolating China due to the coronavirus outbreak is not fair nor ethical.

In a one to one interview with Alan Peaford, editor-in-chief of African Aerospace, Tewolde said that isolating China because of the temporary problem China is having is not fair nor ethical. The carrier's CEO said that he made the decision to continue flying to China as per the directive of the WHO.
“Flying direct to China does not mean that we are going to import coronavirus," he said. "Because passengers from China travel to Africa and Ethiopia through various other hubs. That is what today’s inter-connected world means,” he said. “Stopping flights is not the answer. It is not a recommended answer. European carriers stopped flying to China but Chinese carriers are flying to Europe. It is a paradox,” he added.

Speaking at the impending first anniversary of the Ethiopian Airlines B737MAX  crash on March 10, Tewolde said his airline has not yet make a decision whether or not it will ever fly the MAX again or should go back to realising its MAX orders.

“We have not yet made that decision. That decision is not an easy for us to make right now," he said. "The MAX has a problem and it is grounded for almost a year now. It has not been clearly decided or known when it is going to be back to the air. We are discussing with Boeing, but as an airline which unfortunately happened to be with the accident our situation is different from other airlines which have MAX airplanes grounded. As and when Boeing decided to return the aircraft to service and we will make the assessment. Will we be able to convince our crew, our pilots or our customers? And how long it will take us? Those kind of questions will be answered at that time. It will take some time before we make any decision. We have to be convinced beyond reasonable doubt that this airplane is good to fly again.”
Ethiopian Airlines is serving 130 international destinations with 130 modern planes with an average age of five years. With regards to the success of the airline, Tewolde said corporate governance and management independence helped the airline to thrive under successive governments. Ethiopian Airlines has grown fast in the past decade with its 15 year growth strategy dubbed Vision 2025. According to Tewolde, Ethiopian Airlines management has now came up with another 15 year growth strategy called Vision 2035. The new strategy scales up the growth of the airline and adds new business units like Ethiopian Skylight Hotel, tour and travel and aerospace manufacturing.

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