‘Your Safety is Our Priority’: How Ethiopian Airlines is Navigating Global Virus Crisis

Photo courtesy of Ethiopian Airlines. (@flyethiopian/Twitter)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Updated: April 3rd, 2020

New York (TADIAS) — Lately Ethiopian Airlines has been busy delivering much-needed medical supplies across Africa and emerging at the forefront of the continent’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic even as it has suspended most of its international passenger flights.

In March the airline flew to China and returned home fully loaded with medical supplies donated to Africa courtesy of the Jack Ma Foundation, which entrusted Ethiopia to distribute the material to the rest of the continent.

“Ethiopian Airlines, always true to its Pan-African creed, in good and bad times!” tweeted Henok Teferra Shawl, Ethiopia’s Ambassador to France, Spain, Portugal & Holy See – he is also a former Vice-President at the airline. “Covid-19: Ethiopian Airlines to carry medical shipments to be distributed to all African countries from Guangzhou to Addis Ababa.”

According to the Office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed the cargo included over one million testing kits, 6 million masks and 60,000 protective suits that Ethiopian Airlines has since rushed to Djibouti, Eritrea, Egypt, Sudan, Niger, Senegal, Benin, Gambia, and Burkina Faso among other nations.

“I am quite pleased to share that since receiving #COVID19 supplies from @JackMa and @AlibabaGroup a week ago, we have successfully finalized the distribution task within the continent in six days through our national pride @flyethiopian,” Prime Minister Abiy shared via Twitter last weekend.

Two Ethiopian Airlines Boeing planes were even spotted in Miami, Florida a few days ago transporting stranded crew members of cruise ships due to COVID-19 cases identified on board. An online report noted that “cruise lines have been chartering several planes out of Miami, including these two Ethiopian Airlines 777s.” “The final destination for these passengers [was] the Philippines. The Ethiopian Airlines flights, they operated from Miami to Addis Ababa to Manila.” The report added that both planes flew to Miami on March 30th from Washington and Chicago.

Ethiopian Airlines’ emergency medical supply run has also included some European stops such as Lisbon, Portugal where the country’s head of state expressed his gratitude in a recent social media post. “H.E Antonio Costa, Portuguese Prime Minister expressed his profound delight upon the Ethiopian aircraft unloading in Portugal thousands of personal COVID 19 protective equipment, suits and masks,” Ethiopian replied via Twitter: “Thank you your Excellency for your kind words.”

Meanwhile, in a letter to its customers Ethiopian Airlines emphasized that it’s woking with World Health Organization (WHO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Ethiopian Ministry of Health to assure employee and customer safety.

“We are regularly providing the highest standards of hygiene on all our aircrafts and terminals to make your travel experience seamless and safe,” the letter said. “We are making frequent disinfection of the work area, passenger terminal, cargo terminal, maintenance hangars, all airplanes on every departure and conducting regular measurement of body temperature of passengers and employees…All the time we are maintaining social distancing of employees and passengers specially when they line up to get some services.”

The letter stated:

In six days’ time, we have also delivered much needed testing kits, masks and other medical supplies to 51 African countries and some European countries. We are helping to save lives and this is one of the greatest intrinsic satisfaction in life for which we all are proud of.

We have made all of our aircrafts equipped with biohazard kits and we have gloves, hand sanitizer and face masks to keep our passengers and employees safe.

Our passengers whose travel date falls between 01 March- 30 June 2020 are eligible to re-book their tickets for travels until 31 December 2020 or opt to receive a voucher (credit note) for future travel which will be valid for one year from date of issuance.

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