Ethiopian airlines has lost $550 million this year due to coronavirus -CEO

ADDIS ABABA, April 7 (Reuters) - Ethiopian Airlines Chief Executive Officer Tewolde Gebremariam said on Tuesday the airline lost $550 million from January to April because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“Due to coronavirus the airline is working at only 10% of its flight capacity and so far we have lost $550 million,” Tewolde told reporters during a briefing in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

Global airlines group IATA warned on Tuesday that about 25 million jobs in the aviation industry are at risk due to plummeting demand as a result of the coronavirus.

The global health crisis has brought air travel to a standstill, leaving airlines with no revenue and facing a struggle for survival.

Despite having suspended 91 out of 110 of its passenger flight destinations, the CEO said the company would not lay off any of its employees.

“Ethiopian airlines has not laid off any employees and has no plan to do so,” he said.

In an attempt to compensate for the loss the company is redirecting its business to cargo flights and maintenance, including charters for Europeans and Americans wanting to be repatriated to their countries.

“We have already repatriated U.S. peace corps as well as Europeans from Africa,” he said.

The United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organization has called on governments to ensure cargo operations are not disrupted to maintain the availability of critical medicine and equipment such as ventilators and masks that will help fight the outbreak. (Reporting by Dawit Endeshaw, Writing by Giulia Paravicini; editing by Elias Biryabarema and Chris Reese)