Ethiopian Airlines on Tuesday announced it had lost $550 million in revenue since January attributable to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ethiopian Airlines CEO, Tewolde Gebremariam, said the airlines were forced to suspend passenger flights to 91 international destinations due to the global pandemic.
“Currently, the airline has suspended commercial flights to 90 per cent of its international destinations, meaning it is serving only 10 per cent of its international destinations,” he said.
Mr Tewolde said the carrier used to fly daily to 350 international destinations but currently it is flying passengers to 19 destinations given that the airline had about 110 destinations around the world.
The carrier is trying to offset losses by redirecting its business to cargo flights and maintenance. Currently, it flies cargo to 17 destinations only.
Loss compensation efforts include charter flights for foreign nationals mainly Americans and Europeans who want to be repatriated to their home countries.
“We have already repatriated US peace corps as well as Europeans from Africa,” the CEO said.
"Our cargo and maintenance services are doing well,” he told a news conference.
The international aviation industry has lost $52 billion, with Africa losing $4.2 billion, he added.
In a statement, Ethiopian Airlines has strongly refuted reports saying the airliner is sending home workers.
Ethiopian Airlines CEO says no permanent employee is laid off despite losses. He admitted that contract workers had been laid off.
“Ethiopian Airlines has not laid off any regular employee and has no plans. Needless to mention that the airline industry is passing through unprecedented crisis caused by the Covid-19 and Ethiopian Airlines is not an exception,” said the statement.
“Ethiopian Airlines is losing significant part of its regular revenue but there is no plan to reduce regular employees,” it added.
Ethiopian has close to 17,000 workers, of whom 2,700 are contracted.
The airliner’s three staff members are among the 52 Covid-19 patients in Ethiopia.