ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopian Airlines, the leading Airline in Africa, is celebrating the 50th year of the beginning of its service to China.
The airline, the first African carrier to fly to China, has been connecting the Asian country with the continent for half a century now.
Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mesfin Tasew said the first flight to China 50 years ago “heralded an important milestone in the history of the Airline”.
Ethiopian Airlines made its first flight to Shanghai on Feb 21, 1973, and operated there for a while before shifting its flights to Beijing on Nov 7, 1973.
Five decades later, China is now one of the biggest markets for Ethiopian while its capital Beijing has become one of the airline’s very popular destinations in Asia.
Ethiopian has also added four more passenger flights to its Chinese destinations – namely, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Hong Kong.
Gateway for African Market
It is now pushing on building on its immense working experiences to remain a reliable flight services provider.
Mesfin said, “Ethiopian was among the first to serve China and has ever since been providing reliable services to the country”.
The airline was one of a handful of flight companies that continued to offer services to China during the early period of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Airline, despite pressure to suspend the flights, defended the decision stating the company was acting as a “lifeline” for African economies highly dependent on China for trade.
Today, Group CEO Mesfin reiterates the airline’s commitment to the Chinese market, which he described as “one of the key flight destinations in Asia.”
“We will maintain our commitment to serve the country, thereby providing access for the Chinese people to the big African market,” the CEO added.
Ethiopian: flights returning to pre-pandemic levels
Beijing’s recent move to lift its stern Covid restrictions has also helped the airlines to boost passenger flights frequency to Chinese cities significantly.
The flights are expected to get back to the pre-COVID-19 levels soon with daily flights to Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong as well as ten and four weekly flights to Guangzhou and Chengdu, respectively.
Group CEO Mesfin says the China-Africa relation is projected to grow significantly in the coming years.
Ethiopian, he continues, would “continue to serve the needs of the traveling public by availing the best connections to Africa and beyond, using its ultramodern aircraft.”
The national flag carrier will operate a total of 35 weekly passenger flights to China when the services are fully restored.
Chinese Freighter destinations expanding
Apart from passenger flights, Ethiopian is also operating 31 cargo flights per week to nine destinations in China, including three new additions.
The Airline has been serving daily cargo flights to Guangzhou and Hong Kong, four weekly flights to Shanghai, three weekly flights to Zhengzhou and Wuhan, as well as two to Changsha.
It has also recently added three more freighter destinations to China including two weekly flights each to Xiamen and Shenzhen as well as one to Chengdu.
Airlines officials view the new cargo flights to be “instrumental in facilitating cargo shipments across the world” by improving air connectivity among China, Africa, Europe, and South America.
They also increase, with five passenger and nine cargo scheduled services, Ethiopian Airlines’ operations in China to a combined 66 weekly flights and destinations to ten.
“We are pleased to have served the people of China for the last 50 years, and we will continue to be a bridge connecting China with African nations,” the group CEO Mesfin said.
Apart from China, Ethiopian cargo and logistics services covers about 130 international destinations with both belly hold capacity and nearly 70 dedicated freighter services.