ADDIS ABABA, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Ethiopian Airlines eyes tapping the surging market in China via opening new flights, using Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, as a gateway to Africa, chief executive officer of Ethiopian Airlines Mesfin Tasew has said.
"China is a very important market for Ethiopian Airlines. We have been connecting China with Africa for the last 50 years and we would like to further expand our cooperation with China by adding more frequencies and flying to more destinations," Tasew told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Ethiopian Airlines began a freighter service to the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu almost two weeks ago.
Tasew said Ethiopian Airlines sees China as an engine for its future growth, noting the rise in the number of investors and business persons flying from China to Africa and vice versa.
"Our cargo flights to China are not only between Africa and China but between Europe and China as well. So we have a big cargo operation in China. We have been working with the Chinese businessmen to export their manufactured products to Africa, Europe and other parts of the world," Tasew said.
Currently, Ethiopian Airlines flies to five Chinese destinations, namely, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Hong Kong with total weekly flights reaching 52 -- 28 flights for passengers and 24 flights for cargo, he said.
Recalling that Ethiopian Airlines made its first flight to Shanghai in 1973, and shifted to Beijing the same year, Tasew said China has continued to be his company's very important destination in Asia.
"The role of the Ethiopian Airlines in connecting Africa to China is tremendous. We fly to 63 cities within Africa, using Addis Ababa as a gateway," said Tasew.
Noting the indispensable role Ethiopian Airlines had played in transporting medical goods from China to Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic, Tasew said the airlines' flights to China have seen tremendous growth since January this year.
"As far as I know, the number of Chinese companies investing both in Ethiopia and the rest of Africa is on the rise. It is a good opportunity for the airline to provide services to business persons flying to China and Africa and serve as a catalyst to facilitate the business relationship," he said.
According to Tasew, his company would scale up the provision of services and access for the Chinese people to the big African market. "We believe that, in the future, the airline will continue to play an important role in the economic and diplomatic relationship between China and Africa."