Africa’s leading airliner, Ethiopian Airlines, has said it is re-strategizing towards minimizing the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the Airline’s operations globally.
In an interview with African Leadership Magazine, the Airline’s Regional Manager for Southern Africa, Abel Alemu, restated that the Airline industry is one of the worst-hit by the outbreak. More than a third of the world’s population is on lockdown, and economic activities across the globe have slowed since the World Health Organization described the virus as a pandemic.
According to him, “Ethiopian airline alone has lost about $550,000 between January 2020 to the end of March 2020.” He also maintained that: “In the coming days, we expect to see more decline in revenue and operating profit.”
“The actual amount per airline has not been prorated as of now, but, the actual figure for Ethiopian Airline is what I just shared with you,” he said.
He, however, maintained that, while the Airline is currently facing these challenges, there are no immediate discussions regarding staff retrenchment or downsizing.
According to him: “As far as Ethiopian is concerned, there are no immediate or long-term plans for reduction. Our focus at the moment is to see how we can overcome the adverse effect of the pandemic on our business.”
While commenting on the Airline’s strategy towards minimizing the impact of the pandemic, Alemu maintained that “Ethiopian Airline is currently only operating to a limited number of destinations in its network. Out of about 120 international locations, our flights are currently only going to about 19 cities at a very minimal frequency a week. More than 90% of our international routes are currently suspended. More than 80 of the aircraft that we use for international travels are on the ground at our hub in Addis Ababa.” Continuing, he said: “to cope with this business challenge we are currently exploring cargo movements.
We see a growth in demand for cargo movements, especially as it relates to emergency medical equipment and supplies. We are transporting reliefs and materials using our fright flights and passenger aircraft. We have also seen a growth in demand for the repatriation of foreign nationals from different countries to their home countries, and we are exploring those business opportunities. So, we are providing these services to cope up with the business challenges that the industry and indeed, the rest of the world is currently facing.”
A recently released report by the International Air Transport Association, IATA, puts the airline industry at the risk of losing $314 billion in ticket sales. The revised report shows a 25% increase from initial projections due to the longer-than-expected lockdown and its increasing toll on the global economy.
The full interview will be featured in the next issue of the African Leadership Magazine.