Ethiopian celebrates fifty years of services to China

An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 777 lines up for takeoff.
Md Shaifuzzaman Ayon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This year, Ethiopian Airlines celebrates its 50th anniversary of serving China on its ever expanding route network. February 21st 1973 marked the first flight between Addis Ababa and Shanghai Airport.

The Shanghai route was then operated for 8 months, after which Ethiopian moved its operations to Beijing in early November 1973.

Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines Group, Meson Tasew said of the half century serving the Chinese Market: “The beginning of flights to China 50 years ago heralded an important milestone in the history of the Airline.”

“Ethiopian was among the first to serve China and has ever since been providing reliable services to the country.”

“As China is one of the key destinations in Asia, we will maintain our commitment to serve the country, thereby providing access for the Chinese people to the big African market.” 

All those years ago Ethiopian was proud to be the first African airline to operate flights to China. Whereas nowadays China is one of the carrier’s largest markets, serving Guangzhou, Shanghai, Chengdu and Hong Kong. 

“China-Africa relation is projected to grow significantly in the coming years, and Ethiopian Airlines continues to serve the needs of the travelling public by availing the best connections to Africa and beyond, using its ultramodern aircraft.”

“We are pleased to have served the people of China for the last 50 years, and we will continue to be a bridge connecting China with African nations,” concluded Tasew.


Passenger and cargo operations increase

The international aviation industry is actively recovering from the impacts caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. However during the worst of the disruption, Ethiopian managed to continue its services between Africa and China, albeit at a reduced level of operation. 

Since Asian borders re-opened at the beginning of 2023, the carriers services are ramping up at a significant rate.

The 8000+ km journey between Addis Ababa and Beijing will be flying daily alongside flights to Shanghai and Hong Kong. 

There are ten weekly flights on offer for those looking to travel to Guangzhou and Chengdu has four flights a week to choose from. With services fully recovered, there will be 35 weekly flights available between Africa and China.

Ethiopian operates 31 cargo flights per week to China. Daily flights serve Guangzhou and Hong Kong whereas Shanghai has 4 flights per week.

Making the destinations up to nine are: Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Changsha, Chengdu, Xiamen and Shenzen. AviationSource reported back in February, when the Adidas Ababa based airline announced it was extending its services to Xiamen and Shenzen.

Tasew: Helping boost investment

“China is one of the largest markets for Ethiopian Airlines outside Africa, and the increase in flight frequencies will help revive the trade, investment, cultural and bilateral cooperation between Africa and China in the post-Covid era,” Tasew said of the increased opportunities that a rise in flights will bring.

Operating a fleet consisting of predominately Boeing aircraft, with 19 ultra modern Airbus A350’s serving its long haul flights and 32 Bombardier Q400 operating on its regional and domestic routes.

Ethiopian prides itself on boasting an average fleet age of only seven years old, which has helped it earn the Skytrax ‘Best Airline in Africa’ award for 5 years running. 

By Jamie Stokes 4 Min Read
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