Ethiopian Airlines Will Turn to State if Crisis Lasts Until July

An Ethiopian Airlines Dreamliner jet is pictured ahead of its take off on April 27, 2013, at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport. The carrier became the first airline to resume flying the Boeing 787 that were grounded worldwide three months ago due to battery problems. Saturday’s flight will travel from Addis Ababa to Nairobi and is expected to return in the evening. The remaining three of Ethiopia’s Dreaminers will also be retrofitted with a new battery that is contained, ensuring the flight can continue in case of malfuntion. Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said he was very happy to be the first airline in the world to resume flight after a three month grounding of the 50-strong fleet. Ethiopian Airlines, Africa’s fastest growing carrier, is the first airline in Africa to operate the 787 Dreamliner. AFP PHOTO/JENNY VAUGHAN. (Photo credit should read JENNY VAUGHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Ethiopian Airlines Group will seek help from the state if the coronavirus crisis impact on global travel persists for more than three months.

Africa’s biggest airline can survive off cargo services until early July, Chief Executive Officer Tewolde GebreMariam told reporters on Wednesday. “If it goes beyond that and worsens, then we will consult with our government,” he said.

The state-owned carrier has until now insisted that it will not become a burden for a country that’s already battling with food shortages and the Covid-19 pandemic, which has wrecked economies around the world. But salaries, loan repayments and cost of leasing planes are proving a burden as revenue slumps, Tewolde said

The airline is banking on winning cargo contracts with the likes of billionaire Jack Ma’s foundation and the United Nations, which are attempting to fly in medical supplies across the continent. Ethiopian Airlines lost $550 million in the four months through April, the carrier said last week, and is operating at 10% of capacity as travel bans limit flights.

 

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