‘Quick thinking and acting fast’ saved Ethiopian Airlines

Quick adaptation has enabled Ethiopian Airlines weather through coronavirus restrictions and “saved the airline”, its CEO Tewolde Gebremariam has told the AFP news agency.

Despite losing $1bn (£780m) and 850 of its employees contracting coronavirus, the company reported a profit of $44m (£34m) for the first half of the year, and has not defaulted on its loan repayments, the CEO said.

The company has also avoided laying off full-time employees or requested a restructuring of its debts, Mr Tewolde said.

The airline, which is the largest in Africa, responded to a 90% drop in international passenger traffic by repurposing 45 passenger jets in order to build out its cargo fleet.

It stripped off the seats from its passenger planes to make way for cargo. This worked for the airline, as demand for air freight surged during the period.

“I would say that those actions have saved the airline…we were very quick, very fast, flexible and agile to move our forces, resources and everything to cargo,” Mr Tewolde said.