Ethiopian Airlines Group will seek help from the state if the coronavirus crisis impact on global travel persists for more than three months.
Africa’s biggest airline can survive off cargo services until early July, Chief Executive Officer Tewolde Gebre Mariam told reporters on Wednesday. “If it goes beyond that and worsens, then we will consult with our government,” he said.
The state-owned carrier has until now insisted that it will not become a burden for a country that’s already battling with food shortages and the Covid-19 pandemic, which has wrecked economies around the world. But salaries, loan repayments and cost of leasing planes are proving a burden as revenue slumps, Tewolde said.
The airline is banking on winning cargo contracts with the likes of billionaire Jack Ma’s foundation and the United Nations, which are attempting to fly in medical supplies across the continent. Ethiopian Airlines lost $550 million in the four months through April, the carrier said last week, and is operating at 10% of capacity as travel bans limit flights.