ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — As dozens of airlines around the world forgo massive profits and suspend flights to China amid fears of spreading the new coronavirus, Africa’s biggest airline continues to transport thousands from China to Africa every day. Ethiopian Airlines has become the loudest proponent of sticking by China’s side and keeping trade links open, even while six other African airlines including Kenya Airways and South African Airways have suspended their flights.
“Ethiopian Airlines serves countries in good and bad times,” the airline’s CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam, told local media in Ethiopia this weekend. “China has a strong trade and investment relationship with Africa, and Ethiopian Airlines is the major carrier that links China with many African countries. If we stop flights to China, we break that relationship.”
While no coronavirus case has been confirmed on the continent, jitters have spread as preparedness to test for the disease has only slowly ramped up and China’s economy, Africa’s biggest trading partner, has taken a huge hit.