in Air Transport

Ethiopian Airlines answers the Coronavirus questions

Posted 14 February 2020 · Add Comment

Ethiopian Airlines' controversial decision to continue operations to its Chinese destinations has been criticised by some other African airlines. Today the Addis-based carrier responded to explain why it has made this decision.


1.     Why did Ethiopian decide to continue flying to China while several airlines stopped their services? 


Travel ban is not internationally recommended precautionary measure to curb the spread of Coronavirus. 

WHO has advised that there is no need to impose travel ban to/from China due to the outbreak. 

African Union’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has also advised that airlines should not stop flying to China. 

Accordingly, we have continued our flights to our Chinese destinations. 


2.     How many destinations does Ethiopian service in China?


Ethiopian flies to five Chinese cities, namely, Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Hong Kong. 

Note that we don’t fly to Wuhan city which is the epicentre of the Coronavirus outbreak. 

3.     What is the total number of weekly flights you operate to these cities?  


 We operate a total of 35 weekly flights to China for the most part of the year. 


But we have made capacity adjustment due to the seasonal decline in demand which happens every year during Chinese New Year 


What is your policy on continuing your flight to china?  

We are following recommendations from WHO and CDC as well as Ministry of Health like any other international carrier. So far, WHO has recommended that travel bans should not be imposed because of the outbreak.  


4.     What is Ethiopian doing to protect its flight crew, employees and passengers from potential infection?


We are following all WHO recommended precautions and collaborating actively with the Ministry of Health, Public Health Institute and all stakeholders. 


We provide our crew with all the equipment they need to protect themselves and passengers from possible infection. 


5.     Does suspending flights to/from China guarantee prevention of the virus from entering Africa? 

Even if Ethiopian stops flying to China, it doesn’t mean that our country will be free from the virus unless we make the right prevention. 

Some airlines have several daily flights to/from China to their hubs and from there they connect passengers daily to Addis Ababa and other destinations.

Chinese airlines are still flying to all parts of the world including Europe and the Middle East.  

They transfer Chinese and passengers of other nationalities from China to other airlines including ET who then transport the passengers to Addis Ababa and other African destinations.  

Cases have also been reported in countries whose carriers have suspended flights to/from China.  


6.     Isn’t it true that direct flights to China increase the risk of transmitting the Coronavirus?


No, that’s not true. Passengers can fly direct to Addis from China or may travel to another country and connect to flights to Addis. Either way, there could be a risk of the virus coming into the country and other African destinations unless proper prevention is put in place. 

All the necessary preventative measures are taken at the origin (China) as well as Bole airport and other destinations in Africa. 


7.     What measure are taken at Bole International Airport to prevent the virus from entering Africa?


We are working diligently to prevent the disease from importation and medics from the Ministry of Health are in charge of carrying out the screening of passengers at the airport.  


Screening is also conducted 24/7 at Bole for both transiting and for passengers who destined Addis as well as the origin in the respective Chinese airports. 

8.     How effective are the preventive measures at the airport?  


The screening is being carried out at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport per the guidelines of WHO and other regional and international public health institutes. 


The quarantine facility is well equipped with the required professionals and equipment. 


9.     Is Ethiopian Airlines ready to take the responsibility in case Coronavirus infection is reported in Ethiopia?


Ethiopian is taking all the precautionary measures to prevent the virus from entering the country as well as the continent.  


However, as we can see in other countries, some of the confirmed cases of Coronavirus are not because the countries’ airlines fly to china; some of the confirmed cases are in countries which don’t have an airline.


This indicates that stopping flights to China will not make us immune from the virus. Equally, it shows that no single airline can be held accountable.     


10.  How do viruses affect Airlines?


Easily communicable diseases such as Coronavirus can trigger fear in the travelling public.  

Travelers opt to stay at home during an outbreak to protect themselves from the viruses and this reduces the number of passengers airlines carry.

Nonetheless, Ethiopian, together with Ministry of Health is doing its level best to prevent the virus from entering the country. 


11.  What is Ethiopian planning to do going forward regarding the threat of the Coronavirus?


Ethiopian will continue to work closely with all the stakeholders including Ministry of Health, Public Health Institute, and WHO to prevent the virus from entering the country. 


We will remain extra vigilant and continuously monitor developments so as to adopt appropriate measures.


Medical professionals at Bole International Airport are providing information to travellers to reduce the risk of Coronavirus infection. We will keep following any travel advices recommended by the WHO.

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